Cancer Trends Nobody’s Talking About

Cancer cases and deaths in US estimated to increase in 2013

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

The cancer statistical bibles have been released this year. The American Cancer Society focused on the outstanding news – that cancer deaths declined 20 percent between 1991 and 2009. What wasn’t mentioned is the rising number of different types of cancers and increasing numbers of deaths estimated for this year – 2013.

While some cancers are on the decline, most types of cancers are on the rise in the US. In the past year - between 2012 and the estimates for 2013 – some cancers have risen by over 10 percent. The number of cancer-related deaths is also slated to increase, according to the latest statistics.

dailyRx News looked at the numbers and teased out the year-over-year changes.

E. David Crawford, MD, professor of surgery, urology and radiation oncology and head of the Section of Urologic Oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) in Denver, offers some perspective. “I would say that there is a lot of fluctuation in both cancer incidence and death rates from year to year and the important thing to watch is the long term trends.”

The publication dailyRx and other organizations use is the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Every year, the ACS uses sophisticated data gathering and analysis systems to estimate the number of new cases and deaths caused by all major cancer types. 

Dramatic changes

Here are the most notable annual trends among both common and uncommon cancers:

  • A rare but dangerous group of cancers known as non-epithelial skin cancers will increase by 22 percent in 2013.
  • Anal cancers, which are very treatable, will rise by more than 13 percent overall, with women seeing an 11.3 percent increase. This cancer is associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Cancer of the tongue will jump 9.5 percent between 2012 and 2013.
  • Small intestine cancers will climb 9.2 percent
  • Over 6.5 percent more thyroid cancers will be diagnosed in the US this year, mostly among women.
  • A total of 5.5 percent fewer men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but 5.4 percent more men will die from the disease.
  • Finally, more Americans will die from cancer in 2013 than they did in 2012 – including more men, but fewer women.

Declining cancers

Certain types of cancer are decreasing. The biggest declines are being seen in cancers affecting both male and female reproductive organs.

Fewer genital cancers will be diagnosed in 2013. These include the female cancers of the cervix, ovary, uterus, vagina and vulva (external genitalia) and the male cancers of the penis, prostate and testes (testicles).

An 8 percent decline will be seen in testicular cancer, the most common cancer found in young men between the ages of 15 and 35 – going from 8,600 cases in 2012 to an anticipated 7,900 in 2013.

There is one outlier in this genital cancer group. Just over 2,000 more American women will learn they have uterine cancer this year compared with last.

Urinary tract cancers – diagnoses of cancers of the bladder, kidney and other urinary organs – are also declining. About 1,000 fewer bladder cancers will be diagnosed (72,500). However, there will be a slight uptick in kidney cancers.

Colon cancers will be diagnosed in about 700 fewer Americans overall. Women will be spared, while men will have more cases of this disease.

Cancers on the rise

Non-epithelial skin cancers are cancers that, unlike more common skin cancers, don't start in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis), but do affect the skin. These include such rare malignancies as cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, merkel cell carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma and others.

Nearly 6,100 Americans this year will learn they have these often aggressive cancers, up from about 5,000 in 2012. These cancers will overwhelm almost 3,200 people, most of whom will be men. A total of about 2,300 men will die from these cancers, as will nearly 900 women.

Digestive system cancers will be detected in a total of about 5,500 more Americans this year, and 2,000 more people will die from these malignancies.

Digestive cancers include those of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, small intestine, colon, rectum and anus.

Anal cancer is increasing the most among digestive malignancies – 13.3 percent (6,230 to 7,060). Women will see a more than 11 percent rise.

Cancer of the small intestine will jump nearly 10 percent – going from 8,070 in 2012 to 8,810 this year.

Pancreatic cancer, one of the worst diagnoses, will also affect the lives of more Americans this year – 45,220 – up from 43,920 in 2012.

Endocrine cancers are being diagnosed in more Americans – 6.3 percent more or about 3,750 more individuals. The endocrine system controls the body’s metabolism.

Within this group, thyroid cancers, which are usually easily treated, will go up 6.6 percent this year – from 56,460 to 60,220.

Mixed reviews

Breast cancers are increasing slightly. Nearly 2.5 percent more women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – 234,600, up from 229,000 in 2012. The number of women who die from the disease will remain steady at about 39,500.

About 3,150 fewer men (a total of 238,600) will be told, “You have prostate cancer.” However, about 1,500 more men will die from prostate cancer in 2013 than did in 2012 – almost 30,000 (29,720) versus 28,200 in 2012.

Dr. Crawford says, “We need to pay special attention to prostate cancer. The fall in incidence likely reflects decreased screening. It is likely too early to see the if the US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against screening are having an impact. However, if this trend continues, we need to reexamine this recommendation."

Meanwhile, he adds, "The slight increase in prostate cancer death rate bears watching."

Oral cancers, which include the mouth, throat (pharynx), tongue and oral cavity, are staying the same as a whole. Nearly 41,500 Americans will learn they have an oral cancer, and that’s just over 1,000 more cases than last year.

As noted earlier, a substantial increase (9.5 percent) will be seen in cancers of the tongue, with men seeing the most of that increase.

Blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma) are increasing slightly – by about a few hundred more lives touched this year than last. However, two types are actually declining – chronic myeloid leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

A number of other cancers are increasing, appearing in up to a few hundred more individuals this year. These include cancers of the brain, bone, soft tissue and eye, as well as melanoma.

More Americans dying of cancer

Finally, the American Cancer Society estimates more total cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year and more people will succumb to the disease in 2013. The total number of diagnosed cases will increase slightly – going from 1.64 million individuals in 2012 to 1.66 million this year.

More deaths will occur this year - 580,350 up from 577,190. This statistic affects men and women differently, though. About 5,000 more men (307,000) will die from cancer, while about 2,000 fewer women (273,400) will lose their lives to the big C.

Dr. Crawford told dailyRx News, “Both men and women are living longer and many cancers increase with age, thus accounting for increasing numbers and deaths.”

He adds, “There has been a lot of progress in treating most cancers.”  And that’s what’s most important to remember.

Review Date: 
January 21, 2013