The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer has statistics on cancer deaths and new cases (incidence). The report includes long-term trends (since 2001) and short-term trends with the most recent five years of data (2013-2017 for incidence and 2014-2018 for mortality). The Annual Report also provides rates and trends for the most common cancers among children (aged 0-14) and adolescents and young adults or AYAs (aged 15-39).
Scroll down to learn more about trends in cancer incidence and mortality rates.
Cancer Death Rates
Downward trends in mortality (cancer death rates) are the gold standard for evidence of progress against cancer.
11 of the 19 most common cancers in men showed decreases in mortality between 2014-2018: leukemia, myeloma, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cancers of the colon/rectum, larynx, lung and bronchus, stomach, urinary bladder, esophagus, and kidney and renal pelvis. Melanoma and lung had the biggest decrease in mortality. Bones and joints, oral cavity and pharynx, soft tissue including heart, brain and other nervous system (ONS), and pancreas showed increases in mortality for men between 2014-2018.
14 of the 20 most common cancers in women showed decreases in mortality: leukemia, myeloma, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cancers of the urinary bladder, breast, cervix, colon/rectum, esophagus, gallbladder, kidney and renal pelvis, lung and bronchus, ovary, and stomach. Melanoma and lung had the greatest decrease in mortality. Uterus, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, brain and ONS, pancreas, and soft tissue including heart showed increases in mortality for women between 2014-2018.
Children (aged 0-14) and Adolescents and Young Adults (AYAs, aged 15-39)
Rates of New Cancers
Incidence rates decreased for six cancers among males between 2013 and 2017: lung and bronchus, larynx, urinary bladder, colon and rectum, stomach, and brain and ONS. However, incidence rates increased for five cancers: testis, melanoma of the skin, kidney and renal pelvis, oral cavity and pharynx, and pancreas.
Incidence rates decreased for six cancers among females between 2013 and 2017: ovary, lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, urinary bladder, thyroid, and brain and ONS. However, incidence rates increased for 8 of the 18 most common cancers: liver and intrahepatic bile duct, melanoma of the skin, corpus and uterus, myeloma, pancreas, kidney and renal pelvis, breast, and oral cavity and pharynx.
Overall cancer incidence rates for AYAs aged 15-39 increased an average of 0.9% per year between 2013 and 2017, and an average of 0.7% per year for children during that period.
Among children aged 0-14, the incidence rate for all cancer sites combined was 16.8 cases per 100,000 persons between 2013 and 2017.
The most common cancer types among children included leukemia, brain and other nervous system, and lymphoma, with increasing trends for all three from 2001-2017.
Among AYAs (aged 15-39 years), the overall cancer incidence rate was 75.9 cases per 100,000 persons between 2013 and 2017.
The most common cancer among AYAs between 2013 and 2017 was female breast cancer, which was highest among black AYAs. Colorectal cancer had the fastest-growing trend between 2013 and 2017 in new cases overall and especially for Hispanics.
Factors in Changing Cancer Trends: Treatment Advances, Cancer Risk Factors, and Screening
Despite increasing trends in rates of new melanomas, death rates are declining faster for this cancer than they are for other common cancers. The larger decrease in melanoma deaths is mainly due to new therapies such as targeted and immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Along with advances in treatment, the decline in tobacco smoking has contributed to the significant decrease in rates of new cases and deaths for lung cancer. However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in both sexes.
Mirroring the increases in obesity and total sitting time, rates of new cases have increased for several cancers related to excess body weight: female breast, uterus, pancreas, kidney, and female myeloma. Cancers of the uterus and pancreas also had increases in death rates.
Rates of new cases for female breast cancer are increasing due to risk factors such as advanced maternal age, obesity, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption.
Rates of new cases and deaths for colorectal cancer are declining overall, except in adults under 50 and those with other risk factors. This likely reflects the increase in obesity, among other reasons. The overall declines in rates of new cases and deaths from colorectal cancer are largely related to increased screening (mostly colonoscopy).
Higher rates of new cases and deaths for late-stage prostate cancer reflect decreases in the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing.
For more detailed information on factors associated with changes in cancer trends, including more cancer types, subtype information, and risk factors like viral infections, read the full report.