April 3, 2017Oncology
According to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2014, published early online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI; 31 March 2017), overall cancer death rates continue to decrease in men, women, and children for all major racial and ethnic groups. The report finds that death rates during the period 2010-2014 decreased for 11 of the 16 most common types of cancer in men and for 13 of the 18 most common types of cancer in women, including lung, colorectal, female breast, and prostate cancers. Meanwhile, death rates increased for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and brain in men and for liver and uterine cancer in women. The report finds overall cancer incidence rates, or rates of new cancers, decreased in men but stabilized in women during the period 1999-2013.
The Report to the Nation is released each year in a collaborative effort by the American Cancer Society; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), both parts of the Department of Health and Human Services; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). The report includes a special section, which this year focuses on survival. It finds that several but not all cancer types showed a significant improvement over time for both early- and late-stage disease, and varied significantly by race/ethnicity and state.
Compared to cases diagnosed in 1975-1977, five-year survival for cancers diagnosed in 2006-2012 increased significantly for all but two types of cancer: cervix and uterus. The greatest absolute increases in survival (25% or greater) were seen in prostate and kidney cancers as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia. Cancers with the lowest five-year relative survival for cases diagnosed in 2006-2012 were pancreas (8.5%), liver (18.1%), lung (18.7%), esophagus (20.5%), stomach (31.1%) and brain (35%); those with the highest were prostate (99.3%), thyroid (98.3%), melanoma (93.2%) and female breast (90.8%).
According to the authors, while this report found that five-year survival for most types of cancer improved among both blacks and whites over the past several decades, racial disparities for many common cancers have persisted, and they may have increased for prostate cancer and female breast cancer. The authors added that we as a society still have a lot of work to do to understand the causes of these differences, but certainly differences in the kinds and timing of recommended treatments are likely to play a role.
This report also found that tobacco-related cancers have low survival rates, which underscores the importance of continuing to do what we know works to significantly reduce tobacco use. In addition, the authors stated that since every state in the nation has an adult obesity prevalence of 20% or more and with obesity as a known risk factor for cancer, there is a critical need to continue to support communities and families in prevention approaches that can help reverse the nation’s obesity epidemic. The authors also stated that more attention and resources are needed to identify major risk factors for common cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate, as are concerted efforts to understand the increasing incidence trends in uterine, female breast, and pancreatic cancer.