Nearly 590,000 Americans will die from cancer in 2015, and over 1.65 million cases will be diagnosed in 2015, according to an annual report from the American Cancer Society.
However, the ACS estimates that a 22% drop in cancer mortality over the last two decades has resulted in the avoidance of over 1.5 million cancer deaths that would otherwise have occurred at peak rates. The cancer death rate has steadily declined since 1991 as fewer Americans smoke and the healthcare industry has developed innovations in prevention, early detection and treatment.
The most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in men during 2015 will include prostate, lung and colorectal cancer, while women will suffer from breast, lung and colorectal cancer, states the report, which consists of data from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics.
Prostate, lung, colorectal and breast cancer account for nearly one-half of all cancer deaths, with over 27% attributed to lung cancer, according to the report. Overall declines in the cancer mortality rate have been due to lower death rates in these four cancers—deaths from prostate and colorectal cancer are each down by nearly 50% from peak rates, while breast cancer death rates among women are down over 35%.
While cancer death rates have declined, the rate of new diagnoses has remained relatively stable in women and declined almost 2% a year in men between 2007 and 2011, the most recent five years for which data is available.
Men in particular have seen significant declines of about 2% to 3% a year in incidence rates of the most common male cancers. Though breast cancer rates remained stable, incidences of thyroid cancer have increased about 4.5% a year for females.
Cultural differences or gaps in access to quality care could explain differences in cancer mortality across regions of the United States. For example, the South saw the lowest decline over the past decade of data, at about 15%, but East Coast states such as Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York saw declines of 25% to 30%.
Even though fewer Americans smoke and lung cancer deaths have declined, 3 in 10 cancer deaths are still caused by smoking, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology in November. There are 12 cancers recognized by the CDC and U.S. surgeon general as being directly caused by smoking.
The ACS report will be published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
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