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September 20, 2017 | 3 minute read

Cancer Death Rates Decline But Increases in New Cases and Challenges

The U.S. cancer death rate has declined over the past several decades yet cancer continues to present complex challenges, from prevention and treatment to healthy survivorship, according to the seventh annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Progress Report, released last week.

The report details the importance of cancer research, citing AICR and World Cancer Research Fund research showing that obesity, inactivity and poor diet links to increased risk of many cancers. AICR estimates that approximately 30 percent of the most common US cancers diagnosed could be prevented with changes in lifestyle and getting to a healthy weight. More than half of global cancer cases are a result of preventable

The AACR Cancer Progress Report 2017 found that adults cancers declined by 25 percent from 1991 to 2014. That translates into 2.1 million cancer deaths avoided.

Yet although significant advances have been made, cancer continues to have immense personal and economic costs. And cancer health disparities are some of the most pressing challenges of the disease. Cancer disproportionately affects certain segments of the population, including racial and ethnic minorities, patients of lower socioeconomic status, residents in certain geographic locations, and the elderly.

Highlights of the report include:

  • More than 600,920 people in the United States are projected to die from cancer in 2017.
  • The number of new cases of cancer in the United States is expected to almost double by 2030, when it is anticipated that it will reach 2.3 million. This is largely because cancer is primarily a disease of aging and this segment of the U.S. population is growing.
  • It is estimated that the direct medical costs of cancer care in the United States in 2014 were nearly $87.6 billion.
  • Not using tobacco is the single best way a person can prevent cancer from developing. Due to public education and policy initiatives, total U.S. adult cigarette consumption, which is the leading cause of lung cancer, decreased by 38.7 percent from 2000 to 2015.
  • Many cases of skin cancer could be prevented by protecting the skin from ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices.
  • There are disparities in the burden of cancer attributable to preventable causes among certain segments of the U.S. population.

Cancer survivorship:

The report also highlights cancer survivorship. More than 15.5 million U.S. individuals with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2016, compared with just 3 million in 1971. This number is projected to rise to over 20 million by the year 2026.

Cancer survivorship encompasses three distinct phases, according to the report: the time from diagnosis to the end of initial treatment, the transition from treatment to extended survival, and long-term survival. Each phase of cancer survivorship has a unique set of challenges. The issues facing each survivor vary depending on many factors, including age at diagnosis, type of cancer, general health at diagnosis, and treatment.

Improved cancer survivorship and follow-up care is an active area of research.

To read the full report, visit: http://www.cancerprogressreport.org/.

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