Cancer deaths increased during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
This increase reversed a previous long-term trend of declining deaths among cancer patients, researchers noted.
For this study, researchers used the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database to analyze age-standardized cancer-related deaths between 1999 and 2021.
In the 2 years before the pandemic began (2018-2019), the total number of registered cancer-related deaths was 1,327,399. For 90% of these deaths, cancer was listed as the underlying cause of death.
In the first 2 years of the pandemic (2020-2021), the number of registered cancer-related deaths increased to 1,379,643, and 88% of these deaths had cancer listed as the underlying cause of death. Cancer was a contributing cause in 29,920 deaths from COVID-19 and in 142,160 non-COVID-19 deaths, the researchers noted.
During 2019-2021, the rate of deaths with multiple causes significantly increased for all cancers (annual percent change [APC], 1.6%). This reversed the decreasing trend from 1999 to 2019 (ACP, -1.6%). Results were similar across cancer types, as seen in the table below.
Fedeli U, Barbiellini C, Han X, Jemal A. Changes in cancer-related mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst. Published online September 9, 2023. doi:10.1093/jnci/djad191