OVERALL CANCER death rates continued to decline among men, women, children, and adolescents/young adults in every major racial and ethnic group in the United States from 2015 to 2019, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.1 From 2014 to 2018, the overall cancer incidence remained stable for men and children, but it increased for women and adolescents/young adults. This year’s report also highlighted longer-term trends in pancreatic cancer, as well as racial and ethnic disparities in incidence and death rates for many individual cancer sites. The findings in this report are based on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report showed that from 2015 to 2019, overall cancer death rates decreased by 2.1% per year in men and women combined. Among men, death rates decreased by 2.3% per year; among women, death rates decreased by 1.9% per year. The annual declines in death rate accelerated from 2001 to 2019 in both men and women.
The declines in death rates were steepest in lung cancer and melanoma (by 4%–5% per year) among both men and women. Death rates increased for cancers of the pancreas, brain, and bones/joints among men and for cancers of the pancreas and uterus among women.
Incidence Rates: Some Stability, Some Increases
The report showed that cancer incidence rates were relatively stable in men and women combined from 2014 to 2018. Among men, incidence rates remained stable during this period, but among women, incidence rates rose by 0.2% per year.
Over the same period, incidence rates increased for 3 of the 18 most common cancers among men: pancreas, kidney, and testis. Incidence rates in men remained stable for seven of the most common cancers and decreased for the remaining eight cancers. For women, incidence rates increased for 7 of the 18 most common cancers: liver, melanoma, kidney, myeloma, pancreas, breast, and oral cavity/ pharynx. Incidence rates among women remained stable for four of the most common cancers and decreased for the other seven cancers.
In men, the greatest incidence rate increase was seen in pancreatic cancer, which increased by 1.1% per year, and the steepest incidence rate decrease was seen in lung cancer, which fell by 2.6% per year. In women, melanoma had the steepest increase in incidence, rising by 1.8% per year, and thyroid cancer had the sharpest decrease, falling by 2.9% per year.
1. National Cancer Institute: Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. Available at https://seer.cancer.gov/report_to_nation/. Accessed November 7, 2022.