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January 25, 2017 | 4 minute read

Updated Cancer Estimates, Preventing Hundreds of Cases Daily

This year, approximately 4,600 new cancer cases in the US will be diagnosed each day, according to the latest annual report on cancer statistics. The new projections were published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Updated AICR preventability estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of these cases could be prevented.

If everyone in the U.S. was lean, that could prevent an estimated 364 cancer cases a day, finds AICR research.

Declining Cancer Death Rates, Incidence Stable Among Women

Cancer Statistics 2017 estimates there will be 1,688,780 new cancer cases in the United States this year. Over the past decade of available data, cancer incidence has remained stable in women and declined by about 2 percent annually in men.

The report does offer positive news in the steadily declining cancer death rates. Over more than two decades, cancer death rates have dropped 25 percent overall. The drop means there were 2.1 million fewer cancer deaths between 1991 and 2014. The decline is due to steady reductions in smoking and advances in early detection and treatment, the report states.

Other findings of the report include:

– There remain significant gender disparities in incidence and mortality. For all sites combined, the cancer incidence rate is 20% higher in men than in women, while the cancer death rate is 40% higher in men.

– For women, the 3 most commonly diagnosed cancers are breast, lung and bronchus, and colorectum, which represent one-half of all cases. Breast cancer alone is projected to account for 30 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in women.

– For men, prostate, lung and bronchus, and colorectal cancers account for 42 percent of all cases in men, with prostate cancer alone accounting for almost 1 in 5 new diagnoses.

– For all sites combined, the cancer incidence rate is 20 percent higher in men than in women, while the cancer death rate is 40 percent higher in men.

– Racial disparities in cancer death rates continue to decline yet the cancer death rate remained 15 percent higher in blacks than in whites in 2014. Increasing access to care as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can help narrow the racial gap.


Reducing the Risk of Many Common Cancers

Using the new projections by researchers at the American Cancer Society, AICR updated estimates highlight how men and women can reduce their risk of most of the common cancer cases. For example, based on AICR research and incidence, AICR estimates:

– A third of breast cancer cases (33 percent) could be prevented if women avoided alcohol, stayed lean, and exercised.

– Approximately one of ten cases of advanced prostate cancers could be prevented if men stayed a healthy weight.

– Almost half of colorectal cancer cases (47 percent) could be prevented by staying lean, avoiding processed meat, exercising and eating healthy.

click on chart for larger image


Obesity a Cause of 364 Cancer Cases Daily

Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single largest factor individuals can take to lower cancer risk. AICR research links excess body fat to 11 cancers, including post-menopausal breast, endometiral, and colorectal.

AICR estimates that approximately 132,800 cases of cancer occurring in the United States every year are attributable to excess body fat.

One third of US adults are obese and another one third are overweight, according to government statistics. About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are overweight or obese, which increases the likelihood they will be overweight adults.

There are several ways in which excess body fat may increase cancer risk. Fat tissue produces proteins called cytokines that can cause chronic inflammation, which increases cancer risk. Being overweight and obese also increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can spur the growth of cancer cells.


  • Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D. and Jemal, A. (2017), Cancer Statistics, 2017. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 67: 7–30. doi:10.3322/caac.21387
  • AICR/WRCF Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, the Policy Report (2009) and the ongoing Continuous Update Project Reports.

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