Dramatic Declines in Cancer Death Rates but Racial Disparities Still a Major Concern

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The latest cancer statistics are rather promising and suggest there has been a 23% decline in cancer death rates between 1991 and 2012.
The latest cancer statistics are rather promising and suggest there has been a 23% decline in cancer death rates between 1991 and 2012.

The latest cancer statistics are rather promising and suggest there has been a 23% decline in cancer death rates between 1991 and 2012.1

However, the cancer death rates are significantly different between white and African Americans and greater efforts are needed to address this disparity.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths each year in the United States and 2016 is marked by major accomplishments.

For the estimates on cancer incidence rates, investigators used  the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results [SEER] Program data along with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Mortality estimates are based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2016, it is projected there will be 1 685 210 new cancer cases and 595 690 cancer deaths in the United States. The report shows that overall cancer incidence trends are stable in women. However, the trends in men show a continuing decline of 3.1% per year (from 2009 to 2012).

“It is definitely good news that the cancer death rates have fallen and this is due to a number of reasons, including better screening and decreased smoking rates. Better treatments and improvements in immunotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy and radiation have all made a big difference,” said American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) President Julie Vose, MD, MBA, who is a professor of medicine and chief hematology and oncology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. She said the cancer community cannot afford to let up on its progress and it is important to capitalize on opportunities to advance precision medicine.

“Most of these improvements in treatment have been due to cancer research. So, we need to increase the number of patients going into clinical trials. Oncologists need to encourage their patients to enroll in clinical trials,” Dr Vose said in an interview with Cancer Therapy Advisor.

“Only 3% of adult cancer patients go on new clinical trials, so it behooves oncologists to recommend these clinical trials so that we can get these therapies to patients faster.”

The latest estimates show that the death rates are increasing for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and uterine corpus.

In 2016, cancer is expected to be the leading cause of death in 21 states. This is being attributed, in part, to the exceptionally large reductions in deaths due to heart disease.

Among children and adolescents (birth to 19 years), the report shows that brain cancer has surpassed leukemia as the leading cause of cancer death. This trend appears to be directly related to the dramatic therapeutic advances against leukemia.

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