According to statistics reports (“Cancer Statistics, 2016,” Cancer Facts & Figures 2016), cancer death rate in the USA demonstrated a total of 23 % decrease in two decades. A good share of these results can rightfully be attributed to success in medical research and clinical studies in the areas of early detection of the disease as well as its treatment.
As shown in the annual statistics report of the American Cancer Society, in the US, in the period from 1991 (a year with exceptionally high death rate) to 2012 (the most recent year with available data) combined death rate of men and women fell 23 %. Conveyed within this figure is dedicated work of an army of doctors, scientists and CRAs engaged in medical research and clinical trials resulting in over 1.7 million of averted deaths.
Estimates of New Cancer Cases and Deaths in the US
According to estimates published in the CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the number of new cancer incidents and deaths in 2016 in the USA is expected to reach 1,685,210 and 595,690 respectively. The rate of new cancer incidents during the four-year period of 2009–2012 fell 3.1% a year in men, remaining with little if any change in women.
Most Common Cancer Types in the US
Almost a half of the total cancer deaths among both men and women in the USA is expected to be caused by the following four cancer types:
- Lung – accounting for more than 1 out of every 4 deaths
- Breast – accounting for 29% of all new cancer cases
- Colon – with both incidence and death rate falling about 3% per year in the period of 2003–2012 in men as well as women
- Prostate – accounting for approximately 1 in every 5 new cases.
Lung, colon, and prostate cancer types are expected to account for 44% of all new cancer cases detected in 2016 among men. About a half of the projected decline in the number of new cancer cases among men in the US is expected to be accounted for a dramatic decrease in prostate cancer detection, with the routine PSA test screening being no longer recommended. This decision was prompted by high rates of over-diagnosis that estimated at 23% – 42% of all prostate cancer cases detected by the mentioned medical screening method. The over-diagnosis includes new cancer cases that would never need to be treated.
However, in the case of colon cancer, screening with such routine tests as colonoscopy did prove to be effective in the USA. Timely detection and removal of polyps (pre-cancerous growths) can avert cancer. This is the reason why the use of colonoscopy among adults of 50 to 75 years old rose to 55% in 2013 from the 19% of the year 2000.
Decline in the lung cancer incidence rate is explained by the decreasing number of smoking people. This decline in incidence rate began in the mid-2000s in women and two decades earlier in men – in the mid-1980s. This lag occurred due to the history of tobacco use, with men becoming smokers many years earlier than women.
Still on the Rise
United under the term “cancer” is a group of over 100 diseases with different levels of resistance to treatment. And even though today the chances of an average American to die from this disease are the lowest in the last 100 years of the USA history, cancer still causes too much suffering and pain and shortens lives of so many people.
Despite the hot battles that medical researchers fight with cancer in alliance with numerous CROs and patients, there are still several cancer types that demonstrate resistance to treatment causing high death rate. Incidence rates of the following cancer types also have increased in the US in the period of 2003 – 2012 among men as well as women:
- certain types of leukemia
- tongue cancer
- tonsil cancer
- small intestine cancer
- pancreas cancer
- liver cancer
- thyroid cancer
- kidney cancer.
In men, a rise in incidence rate was registered for melanoma, male breast cancer, multiple myeloma, throat cancer and testicular cancer.
In women, an increase in incidence rate in the USA was registered for vulvar, anal and endometrial cancers.
In 1 – 14 years old children, cancer remains the second most common death cause after accidents, with 30% of all childhood cancer cases being leukemia, and 26% – brain tumors and other nervous system cancers. From 1975 to 2012 childhood cancer incidence rate has been growing by 0.6% per year. The silver lining here is that death rates have been continuously falling. This significant progress in all major childhood cancers became possible due to the high level of children’s and adolescents’ participation in clinical trials along with improvements in treatment.
Cancer Burden Heavier on Those in Dire Social Conditions
In the USA, the lowest cancer incidence and death rate are registered among Asian Americans. Other races and ethnic groups – living in dire social conditions with higher risk factors and little if any access to high-quality health care – still remain highly vulnerable.
In order to speed up the process of medical research in the battle against the disease, the cancer journal report calls for involving in clinical studies and applying the cancer-related knowledge and innovation across all segments of the US population, including lowest income social groups.