Cancer Deaths on the Decline

Overall cancer death rates continue to decline in both men and women and across major ethnic and racial groups, according to the annual Status of Cancer report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

What’s more—cancer incidence rates for both sexes combined decreased by 1.5 percent per year from 2000 to 2009 and cancer incidence has decreased overall in men and stabilized in women. Unfortunately, the annual report was not all good news—the cancer incidence rates increased for two cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) (oropharynx and anus) and for several other cancers as well (liver, kidney, thyroid, pancreas, melanoma).

Each year, researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries collaborate to prepare the annual report. This year’s report included data on HPV-associated cancers and HPV vaccination.

The analysis revealed that between 2000 and 2009, overall cancer mortality fell by 1.8 percent a year among men, 1.4 percent a year among women, and 1.8 percent a year among children under 14. During that decade, death rates among men fell for 10 of the 17 most common cancers, but increased for melanoma, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer. In women, death rates declined for 15 of the 18 most common cancers, but rose for pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and uterine cancer.

Incidence rates also seemed to decline over that decade—falling by 0.6 percent per year among men and stabilizing among women. The incidence rates for men dropped for 5 of the 17 most common cancers, but increased for melanoma, myeloma, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and thyroid cancer. For women, incidence rates declined for 7 of the 18 most common cancers, but rose for melanoma, leukemia, and cancers of the thyroid, kidney, pancreas, liver, and uterus.

The analysis revealed that some HPV-associated cancers are on the rise—and appeared to be affected by socioeconomic and ethnic status. For example, cervical cancer rates were highest among Hispanic and black women and those living in poor areas. HPV-associated cancers accounted for 3.3 percent of all cancers among women in 2009 and 2 percent of those among men. In 2010, 32 percent of all girls aged 13 to 17 years had received three doses of the HPV vaccine and the coverage was statistically significantly lower among the uninsured and in some Southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi.

The researchers concluded that overall trends in declining cancer death rates continue; however, the incidence rates for some HPV-associated cancers appear to be on the rise. They suggest that low vaccination coverage needs to be addressed in an effort to prevent HPV-associated cancers.

Reference:

Jemal A, Simard EP, Dorell C, et al. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2009, featuring the burden and trends in human papillomavirus (HPV)–associated cancers and HPV vaccination coverage levels. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2013; 105(3): 175-201.

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