Knowledge in the fight against cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is expected that the number of new cancer cases globally will grow to 27.5 million, with 16.3 million cancer deaths, by 2040. Breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers are the four most common cancers worldwide, accounting for approximately 40% of all new cases collectively.

Cancer incidence rates

Overall incidence rates per 100,000 individuals were 497 for males and 431 for females from 2014–2018. API and Black males had the lowest and highest incidence rates among men, respectively, and API and AI/AN females also had the lowest and highest rates respectively for women. However, incidence varied across 18 of the most common cancer types included in this report:

– For males – incidence rates for three of these cancers increased (including pancreas and kidney), seven were stable (including prostate) and eight decreased (including lung and larynx). – For females – incidence rates of seven cancers increased (including melanoma, liver and breast), four cancers were stable (including uterine) and seven decreased (including thyroid and ovary).

Mortality rates

Combining data from males and females showed that the decline in overall death rates from cancer steepened from 2001 to 2019, decreasing by 2.1% per year. Similar trends in overall death rates were also observed in each of the racial/ethnic groups analyzed in the report.

Data from adolescents and young adults showed a decrease in death rates by 3% per year between 2001 and 2005, however, this rate of decline slowed to around 0.9% per year thereafter.

Racial and ethnic disparities

The report also highlighted racial and ethnic disparities, in both the incidence rates (2014–2018) and death rates (2015–2019) across many cancer types, as summarized in the table below.

“Pancreatic cancer incidence and survival reflect both the underlying risk of disease as well as the difficulty of diagnosing pancreatic cancer at a treatable stage,” said Betsy A. Kohler, M.P.H, NAACCR executive director. “As advancements in screening technology and effective treatments for early-stage disease become available, we are hopeful for greater improvements in pancreatic cancer survival, which historically has been a particularly lethal cancer type.”