Annual report to the nation: Cancer death rates decreased for most common types

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In its Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer the American Cancer Society has revealed that death rates during the period 2010-2014 have decreased for 11 of the 16 most common types of cancer in men and for 13 of the 18 most common types of cancer in women.

This year’s report also comes with special section, which this year focuses on survival expressed as percentage. The report finds that for several types of cancer, there has been a significant improvement over time for both early- and late-stage disease, and varied significantly by race/ethnicity and state. Authors of the report note that while reports have mostly been concentrating on trends in death rates, survival trends are also an important measure to evaluate progress in improvement of cancer outcomes.

The report may have optimistic numbers for most common types of cancer, but it also found increase in death rates for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and brain in men and for liver and uterine cancer in women. While the overall cancer incidence rates, or rates of new cancers, decreased in men for 1999-2013, it stabilized in women.

Going into specifics, the report notes that compared to cases diagnosed in 1975-1977, five-year survival for cancers diagnosed in 2006-2012 increased significantly for all but two types of cancer: cervix and uterus. The greatest absolute increases in survival (25 percent or greater) were seen in prostate and kidney cancers as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia.

Cancers with the lowest five-year relative survival for cases diagnosed in 2006-2012 were pancreas (8.5 percent), liver (18.1 percent), lung (18.7 percent), esophagus (20.5 percent), stomach (31.1 percent) and brain (35 percent); those with the highest were prostate (99.3 percent), thyroid (98.3 percent), melanoma (93.2 percent) and female breast (90.8 percent).

Another important finding of the report is that racial disparities for many common cancers have persisted, and they may have increased for prostate cancer and female breast cancer.

The report also found that tobacco-related cancers have low survival rates and this calls for continued work in this direction by all concerned to do what we know works to significantly reduce tobacco use.

The authors also stated that more attention and resources are needed to identify major risk factors for common cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate, as are concerted efforts to understand the increasing incidence trends in uterine, female breast, and pancreatic cancer.