JUN 11, 2019 07:49 AM PDT

What Does the Annual Cancer Report Say?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

In May 2019, the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer was released. It finds a continuing decline in cancer mortality for women, men and children. Special attention this year was given to the 20 to 49 age group, wherein women had higher incidence and death rates. The report is a joint project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR).

From 2012 to 2016, cancer death rates overall decreased by 1.8 percent per year for men and by 1.4 percent per year among women. From 2011 to 2015, incidence rates for all cancers were stable in women and dropped 2.1 percent per year for men.

Cancer in newspaper image, credit: public domain

Women’s Cancer Rates Are Higher for 20-49 Year-Olds

When all ages are combined, men have higher cancer incidence and death rates than women. But between ages 20 and 49, women had a much higher incidence rate between 2011 and 2015. During this time, the average annual invasive cancer incidence rate was 115.3 per 100,000 people for men and 203.3 among women. Between 2012 to 2016, the average annual cancer death rate was 22.8 for men and 27.1 among women in this age bracket. Cancer mortality rates are declining in this age group.

The most common cancers in this group for women are breast (by far the most common), thyroid and melanoma of the skin, and, for men, testicular, colorectal and melanoma of the skin.

“The high burden of breast cancer relative to other cancers in this age group reinforces the importance of research on prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer in younger women,” Elizabeth Ward, Ph.D., lead author and  NAACCR consultant, said.

Breast cancer ribbon, credit: public domain

Other Cancer Rates and Trends

Cancers associated with tobacco smoking continue to decline, while cancers “related to excess weight and physical inactivity” such as post-menopausal breast, uterine and colorectal (in young adults) have increased in the past few decades.

Thyroid cancer, which had increased in incidence for decades, stabilized for women between 2013 and 2015. Deaths from skin cancer have decreased in recent years.

The report revealed a continuing trend of racial and ethnic disparity in cancer incidence and deaths. Black men and women had the highest cancer death rates, “both for all cancer sites combined and for about half of the most common cancers in men and women.”

Source: National Cancer Institute

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech and conservation.
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