Overall cancer death rates continue to decline
Published On: November 6th, 2022>By >Last Updated: March 5th, 2023>Categories: General>

It is very nice to read about some recent GOOD NEWS in healthcare!

Personally, I’m tired of reading all the bad news about COVID, flu, and RSV.

So…what’s the Good News?

Cancer death rates continue to decline!

The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (ARN) was recently (Oct 2022) published in Cancer. 2022;1–34. The ARN report includes long-term trends (since 2001) and short-term trends with the most recent 5 years of available data, which includes the years 2014-2018 for incidence rates (i.e., new cases of cancer) and 2015-2019 for mortality (i.e., cancer death rates).

The good news is that between 2015-2019, the overall cancer death rate declined among men, women, children (ages 0-14 yo), and AYA (adolescents and young adults (aged 15-39) in every major racial and ethnic group in the U.S.

Here is a breakdown of the decrease in cancer death by population:

% decrease in cancer deaths per year from 2015-2019

Overall                 2.1%

Men                     2.3%

Women                1.9%

Adults                  1.5%

AYL                      0.9%

Children               1.5%

  • The steepest decline in mortality were in lung cancer (4% per year) and melanoma (5% per year)

  • Death rates increased:

    • for men in brain, bone, and pancreas cancers

    • for women in pancreas and uterus cancers

    • Pancreatic cancer increased in both men and women by 0.2% per year from 2001 to 2019

The overall cancer incidence, between 2014-2018, remained stable for men and children but unfortunately there were increases for women, children, and AYA.

  • The most common cancer types among children included:  leukemia, brain and other nervous system, and lymphoma. All 3 increased in incidence from 2001-2018

  • Pancreatic cancer incident rate (2001-2018), increased 1% per year in both men and women

So, the interesting news here is that we see incidence rates either remaining stable or increasing in some cases, but the death rates are decreasing.  So, more people are getting certain cancers, but less people are dying from cancer.  Why is that?

Treatment advances have increased survival rates in certain cancers. Lung and melanoma are good examples that have seen a significant drop in death rates.

The increases in the incidence of many common cancers can be partly explained by the following changes:

  • exposure to risk factors, depending on the cancer. For example, uterine cancer risk factors include excess body weight, diabetes, physical inactivity, nulliparity (no births), fewer births, and earlier age at menarche

  • the availability and frequency of screening tests

  • more advanced diagnostic tools and practices

The continued advances in science and technology have accelerated the ability to increase the survival rate.  However, will we ever find a cure?  Or will cancer continue to evolve into a manageable chronic condition with longer survival rates?

Time will tell!

More data is planned to be released in early 2023 by the same group that released the ARN. They will examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on new cases and deaths from certain cancers.

Feel free to leave any relevant comments.

Reference: Cancer. 2022;1–34.

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IMAGE Credit to: https://www.canceredinstitute.org/cancer-awareness-months.html

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