Cancer rates across the United States are declining, according to a new report from the National Institutes of Health.
Known as the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, the report examined data across 42 states –concluding that diagnosis and death data decreased from 1999-2015.
“This year’s report is an encouraging indicator of progress we’re making in cancer research. As overall death rates continue to decline for all major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, it’s clear that interventions are having an impact,” said National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, M.D. “The report also highlights areas where more work is needed. With steadfast commitment to patients and their families, we will be able to lower the mortality rates faster and improve the lives of those affected by cancer.”
“The key point is that mortality from cancer is going down for both men and women … and children as well,” said Kathleen Cronin, Ph.D., one of the authors of the report and a researcher at NCI.
In addition to declining rates, Cronin added that the rate of new diagnoses is going down among men while remaining “relatively stable” among women. Among children, Cronin said, the diagnosis rate among children is going down while the mortality rate is declining.
The data show that from 1999 to 2015, overall cancer death rates decreased by 1.8 percent per year among men and by 1.4 percent per year among women, while, from 2011 to 2015, death rates decreased for 11 of the 18 most common cancer types in men and for 14 of the 20 most common cancer types in women.
In women, the most common cancer types were lung, breast, colon and rectum, pancreas, and ovary cancer, while the most common cancers in men were lung, prostate, colon and rectum, pancreas, and liver cancer.
While the researchers were able to obtain the mortality data across all 50 states, Kronin explained that only 42 states had complete cancer registry data, which record diagnosis statistics.
“Each state has a cancer registry, and they are responsible for collecting data on all cancers that are diagnosed within the state,” Kronin said. “Some states were not included, because they have to meet a certain completeness criterion.”
Although the data on cancer diagnosis and mortality rates were mainly complete according to Kronin, she explained that gathering children’s cancer data has limitations.
“For childhood cancers … there are a lot of variance around our estimates because the rates … are actually quite low as far as what’s going up and what’s going down,” Kronin explained.
Data from the Maryland Department of Health show that between the 2005 and 2014, the cancer mortality rate declined at a rate of 0.2 percent per year, while the national cancer mortality rate declined 1.2 percent over the same period.
According to the CDC, cancer is the second most common cause of death in Maryland, with 10,911 deaths per year.