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U.S. Cancer Mortality Rates Down From 2014 to 2018

Decrease seen for 11 of the 19 most common cancers among men and for 14 of the 20 most common cancers among women

By Physician’s Briefing Staff | July 08, 2021

Cancer death rates in the United States continued to decline overall from 2014 to 2018, with declines accelerating for lung cancer and melanoma, according to a report published online July 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Farhad Islami, M.D. Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed cancer incidence and mortality trends by cancer type, sex, age group, and racial/ethnic group in the United States. The North American Association of Central Cancer Registries was used to assess incidence data for all cancers from 2001 through 2017 and survival data for melanoma cases diagnosed during 2001 and 2014 with follow-up through 2016.

The researchers found that overall cancer incidence rates (per 100,000 population) for all ages were 487.4 per 100,000 among males and 422.4 among females during the 2013 to 2017 period, which was stable among males but showed a slight increase in females (average annual percent change [AAPC], 0.2 percent). Overall cancer death rates from 2014 to 2018 were 185.5 per 100,000 among males and 133.5 per 100,000 among females, which was a decline for both sexes (males: AAPC, −2.2 percent; females: AAPC, −1.7 percent). In males, for 11 of the 19 most common cancers, death rates decreased. Among females, for 14 of the 20 most common cancers, there was also a decrease, but there were increases for five cancer types among each sex. Declines in death rates accelerated from 2014 to 2018 for lung cancer and melanoma, slowed down for colorectal and female breast cancers, and leveled off for prostate cancer. Despite increasing incidence, among children younger than 15 years of age and adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 39 years, cancer death rates continued to decrease.

"It is encouraging to see a continued decline in death rates for many of the common cancers," Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a statement. "To dismantle existing health disparities and give everyone the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, we must continue to find innovative ways to reach people across the cancer care continuum -- from screening and early detection to treatment and support for survivors."

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