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Cancer Trends for 2012

Cancer deaths are declining, according to a new report released by the American Cancer Society. Researchers estimate that about 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and 577,190 will die from cancer in the United States in 2012. From 2004-02008, the overall incidence of cancer declined slightly for men and was steady for women. Cancer deaths declined by about 1.8% per year in men and by 1.6% per year in women.

In the American Cancer Society’s annual report, “Cancer Statistics, 2012,” researcher Rebecca Siegel and colleagues provide the expected numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in 2012 nationally and by state, as well as an overview of current cancer statistics using data through 2008, including incidence, mortality, and survival rates and trends. They also provide the total number of deaths averted as a result of the decline in cancer death rates since the early 1990s, and provide the reported number of cancer deaths in 2008 by age for the 5 leading cancer types. The report was published in the January/February 2012 edition of CA: A Cancer Journal for Physicians, and can be accessed through the American Cancer Society’s web site. 

The researchers note that 1 in 4 deaths in the United States is a result of cancer. Cancers of the lung and bronchus, prostate, and colorectum in men and cancers of the lung and bronchus, breast, and colorectum in women continue to be the most common causes of cancer death—accounting for almost half of the total cancer deaths among men and women. The researchers report that In 2012, lung cancer is expected to account for 26% of all female cancer deaths and 29% of all male cancer deaths. 

Incidence rates decreased for all 4 major cancer sites, with the exception of female breast cancer, which remained relatively stable from 2005 to 2008 after decreasing by 2% per year from 1999 to 2005. The researchers note that lung cancer incidence rates in women began declining in the late 1990s, more than a decade after the decline began in men. They report that differences in lung cancer incidence patterns between men and women reflect historical differences in tobacco use; cigarette smoking prevalence peaked about 20 years later in women than in men. Recent rapid declines in colorectal cancer incidence rates have largely been attributed to increases in screening that can detect and remove precancerous polyps. However, the researchers note that the lifetime probably of developing cancer at any site is 1 in 2 for men and 1 in 3 for women. 

Between 1990/1991 and 2008, the researchers report that cancer death rates decreased 22.9% in men and 15.3% in women. Death rates continue to decrease for lung and bronchus, colorectum, breast, and prostate cancers. The researchers state that among men, reductions in death rates for lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers account for 78% of the total decrease in the cancer death rate, with lung cancer alone accounting for almost 40% of the decrease. Among women, the researchers state that reductions in death rates for breast and colorectal cancers account for 56% of the total decrease, with breast cancer accounting for 34% of the decrease in women. 

Cancer rates also varied by race. For all cancer sites combined, the researchers found that African American men have a 15% higher incidence rate and a 33% higher death rate than white men. Moreover, African American women have a 6% lower incidence rate but a 16% higher death rate than white women. African Americans also have poorer survival rates than white Americans. The researchers also report that cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14, after accidents. 



• The American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Statistics, 2012” was published in the January/February 2012 edition of CA: A Cancer Journal for Physicians, and can be accessed through the American Cancer Society’s web site, or the journal’s web site,