Overall cancer mortality in the United States has continued to decline, with more than 4 million cancer deaths averted since 1991, according to the 2024 American Cancer Society (ACS) annual report on cancer trends.
The “good news is that we are continuing to see a decline in cancer mortality,” which follows the steady decline we’ve observed in cancer mortality over the past three decades, Rebecca Siegel, MPH, with ACS, and lead author of the new report, told Medscape Medical News.
However, these gains are “threatened by increasing incidence for many common cancers, including 6 of the top 10 most commonly diagnosed cancers,” Siegel said.
Overall, new cancer diagnoses are projected to top 2 million in 2024. That’s an average of 5480 new diagnoses each day or one person diagnosed every 15 seconds.
“In the US, the way our healthcare system is designed, we like to treat more than we like to prevent disease, and I would personally like to see a shift towards more emphasis on cancer prevention,” she added.
The full report was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians on January 17, 2024.
Cancer Hitting at Younger Ages
Although advancing age remains the strongest determinate of cancer risk, the new data showed that cancer incidence is steadily increasing in younger populations.
What’s most alarming is the increase in cancer diagnoses in adults under 50 years.
Between 2015 and 2019, incidence rates increased by 0.6%-1% annually for breast, pancreas, and uterine corpus cancers, by 1%-2% annually for cervical cancer in women between 30 and 44 years, and by 2%-3% annually for prostate, kidney, melanoma, and human papillomavirus (HPV)–associated oral cancers, as well as liver cancer in women.
The continuing rise in colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence in younger adults, in particular, is “very concerning,” Siegel said, and has shifted mortality patterns among adults younger than 50 years.
In this group, CRC is now the leading cause of cancer death in men and the second-leading cause in women behind breast cancer — up from the fourth leading cause of cancer death in both younger men and women two decades ago.
The obesity epidemic is likely a contributing factor in rising CRC rates, “but it’s not the whole story,” Siegel told Medscape Medical News. “A lot of work is going on to try to uncover what exactly is causing an increased risk of colorectal cancer.”
The proportion of new cancers diagnosed in adults aged 50-64 years has also increased — from 25% in 1995 to 30% in 2019-2020 — while the proportion of new cancers diagnosed in adults aged 65 years and older fell from 61% to 58% in that time frame. Among this older population, the authors observed steep declines in the incidence of prostate cancer and smoking-related cancers.
“Every generation born after the 1950s has had higher cancer risk than the previous generation. That tells us is that there is some exposure that is yet unknown that is causing this increased risk,” Siegel noted.
To halt and reverse this trend, it will be important to increase screening uptake as well as awareness of noninvasive stool tests and follow-up care in younger adults, Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, with ACS, commented in a press release.
Other key findings in the report include the sharp decline in cervical cancer incidence rates in women in their 20s — the first cohort to receive the HPV vaccine — but increases of nearly 2% in women 30-44 years, highlighting the need for more screening in young women as well as broader uptake of the vaccine, the authors said.
After decades of increases, cancer incidence in children has leveled off, although rates continue to increase among adolescents aged 15-19 years. The largest increase was a 4% per year rise in thyroid cancer, much of which is likely due to overdiagnosis.
On the survival front, uterine cancer is the only cancer for which survival decreased over the past few decades.
Progress against cancer has been hampered by persistent and widespread cancer disparities. Mortality rates are twofold higher among Black patients with prostate, stomach, and endometrial cancers than among White patients, and twofold higher among Native Americans with liver, stomach, and kidney cancers.
Black women are more often diagnosed at more advanced stages (44% vs 23%) and have worse 5‐year survival rates (63% vs 84%) than White women.
“This report underscores the need for public policy interventions to help reduce these cancer disparities and save more lives,” Lisa Lacasse, with the ACS Cancer Action Network, said in the release. “We urge lawmakers at all levels of government to advance policies that ensure more people have health insurance coverage as well as improved access to and affordability of care, such as increased funding for cancer research and screening programs.”
The authors of a linked editorial noted that while the report shows continued progress in oncology overall, certain ethnic, racial, age, and geographic populations face a disproportionate burden of cancer incidence and mortality.
“Like others, we find these health disparities wholly unacceptable and agree with the National Cancer Plan and Biden Moonshot Initiative that bold and new collaborations and thinking will be needed to produce different outcomes,” the editorialists said.
Overall, the editorialists noted, “every 15 seconds presents a real reminder of the urgency to end cancer as we know it for everyone.”
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/cancer-deaths-decline-new-cancer-cases-hit-record-high-this-2024a10001kr?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-22 10:25:50
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