Cancer Incidence in the US — A Mixed Bag

Annual Report to Nation sees decreases and increases in cancer incidence

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The latest report from the National Institutes of Health has shown that it appears fewer Americans are dying from cancer than ever before. Does this mean that fewer people are being diagnosed with cancer?

Trends relating to the incidence of cancer in the US are something of a mixed bag, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

While the number of new cases is declining for many cancers, some forms of the disease appear to be increasing.

And sadly, the trends in childhood cancers could be better.

"Talk to your physician about how you can lower your cancer risks."

The senior author of the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (ARNSC) was Brenda K. Edwards, PhD, of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute.

Published annually, the Report is produced jointly by the National Cancer Institute (NCI); the American Cancer Society (ACS); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR).

Cancer incidence, which is affected by many factors, is an indication of disease burden, unlike mortality rates, which measure cancer control progress.

The authors relied on data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) and/or the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries to track new cases of cancer.

Trends reported in this Report are a continuation of patterns that have been developing over the past few years.

Between 2001 and 2010, overall cancer incidence rates:

  • Decreased 0.6 percent per year among men
  • Stabilized — were largely unchanged — for women
  • Increased 0.8 percent among children 14 years old and younger.

For men, the authors discovered:

  • Cancer incidence rates declined for six of the 17 most common cancers and increased for eight others.
  • Fewer cases of prostate, lung, colorectal, stomach, larynx and brain and other nervous systems cancers were diagnosed among men between 2001 and 2010.
  • More cases of kidney, pancreas, liver, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid, leukemia, melanoma of the skin and myeloma were diagnosed among men during this same timeframe.
  • Prostate cancer was the most common cancer diagnosed among men of all races and ethnic groups.

For women, there were also mixed results:

  • Incidence rates fell for six out of 18 of the most common cancers and increased for eight other cancers.
  • Fewer women developed colorectal, bladder, cervix, oral cavity, ovary and stomach cancers.
  • More women were diagnosed with thyroid, melanoma of the skin, kidney, pancreas, leukemia, liver, myeloma and uterus cancers.
  • The most common cancer diagnosed among women was breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer incidence rates increased among black women but were stable for all other races and ethnicities.

For the five-year period — 2006 to 2010 — more men were diagnosed with cancer (532.7 per 100,000 men) than women (412.6 per 100,000 women).

Black men had the highest overall cancer incidence rate of any racial or ethnic group – 593.9 per 100,000 men.

"Similar to death rates, the overall decrease in cancer incidence rates among men was driven in part by declines in lung cancer, mainly reflecting the success of tobacco control interventions," John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement.

"The chance of dying from cancer has decreased over the past few decades," Subhakar "Sub" Mutyala, MD, Associate Director of the Baylor Scott & White Cancer Institute and Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Temple, Texas, told dailyRx News.

"These statistics show that our treatments are being [effective] in controlling or curing some cancers. However, as the baby boomers age, we will have more older Americans, with more people living with cancer along with other chronic diseases," said Dr. Mutyala, who was not involved in this study.

The Report was published December 16 in the journal Cancer.

This work was supported by the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

The authors made no disclosures.

Review Date: 
December 17, 2013
Last Updated:
February 19, 2014