A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports that mortality rates for patients with cancer are on the decline. The study comes as a collaboration between the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR).
According to the report, cancer death rates fell 1.8% per year in men and 1.4% per year in women from 2012–2016. The authors of the study say their conclusions will help determine where we should prioritize future research within the field of oncology.
One variable that demonstrated to have a noteworthy influence on the mortality rates was gender. The researchers found that death rates between men and women differed significantly, with men experiencing an overall death rate 1.4 times higher than that of women during the time period 2012–2016. Men also had an overall incidence rate roughly 1.2 times higher than that of women.
Age was another influencing variable and impacted the statistics within the gender breakdown. For example, the study found that for those age 20–49, there were not significant differences in death rates between men and women, and in fact, women in this age range had a much higher incidence rate of invasive cancers, particularly breast cancer.
"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," says lead author Elizabeth Ward, Ph.D., a consultant at the NAACCR.
According to the report, for this 20–49 age group, breast cancer was the most common type in women, followed by thyroid cancer and melanoma. Colorectal cancer was the most common for men, followed by cancer of the testis and melanoma. These findings shed light on what groups future research should prioritize.
Overall, the findings from the study were positive in that cancer mortality rates are declining. Betsy A. Kohler, executive director of the NAACCR, commented: "We are encouraged by the fact that this year's report continues to show declining cancer mortality for men, women, and children, as well as other indicators of progress."