Annual Report Shows Decline in Cancer Death Rates, 1975-2014

The five-year survival rates for cancers diagnosed in 2006-2012 improved for all cancer types, except cervix and uterus.
The five-year survival rates for cancers diagnosed in 2006-2012 improved for all cancer types, except cervix and uterus.

The latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer from 1975-2014 was released early online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Overall, cancer death rates declined in men, women, and children for all major race and ethnic groups. From 2010-2014, 11 of the 16 most common types of cancer in men and 13 of the 18 most common types of cancer in women decreased. Overall, cancer incidence rates decreased in men and stabilized in women from 1999-2013. However, death rates for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and brain increased in men and the death rates for liver and uterine cancer increased in women.

The report is a joint effort by the American Cancer Society; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), both parts of the Department of Health and Human Services; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). This year, the report included a special section on survival expressed as percentage.

"While trends in death rates are the most commonly used measure to assess progress against cancer, survival trends are also an important measure to evaluate progress in improvement of cancer outcomes," said Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, of the American Cancer Society and lead author of the study.

The five-year survival rates for cancers diagnosed in 2006-2012, compared to those diagnosed in 1975-1977, improved significantly for all cancer types except cervix and uterus. The greatest increase, 25% or greater, in survival rates were for prostate cancer, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia. Cancers with the lowest 5-year survival rates were pancreas (8.5%), liver (18.1%), lung (18.7%), esophagus (20.5%), stomach (31.1%), and brain (35%).

"The continued drops in overall cancer death rates in the United States are welcome news, reflecting improvements in prevention, early detection, and treatment," said Betsy A. Kohler, MPH, CTR, executive director of NAACCR. "But this report also shows us that progress has been limited for several cancers, which should compel us to renew our commitment to efforts to discover new strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment, and to apply proven interventions broadly and equitably."

Reference

1. Jemal A, Ward EM, Johnson CJ, et. al. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2014, featuring survival [published online March 31, 2017]. J Natl Cancer Inst. doi:10.1093/jnci/djx030 

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