Cancer Statistics: Deaths down 20% over the past two decades

Woman getting mammogram with smiling nurse comforting her

Every year the American Cancer Society estimates the number of new cancer cases and deaths that are expected in the U.S. for the current calendar year. Those figures are published in Cancer Facts & Figures and are among some of the most widely reported cancer statistics in the world.

There’s good news coming out of this year’s report – the cancer death rate for men and women combined has declined 20% since the early 1990s, which translates to about 1.3 million cancer deaths averted during the past two decades.

“The progress we’re seeing is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do better,” said John Seffrin, PhD, the Society’s chief executive officer.

Progress has been most rapid for middle-aged African American men. During this same time period, cancer deaths among African American men aged 40-49 have dropped by more than 50%.

Dr. Seffrin added, “The halving of the risk of cancer death among middle aged black men in just two decades is extraordinary, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that death rates are still higher among black men than white men for nearly every major cancer and for all cancers combined.”

Cancer Facts & Figures 2014 estimates there will be 1,665,540 new cancer cases in the U.S.

  • Among men, prostate, lung, and colon cancer will account for about half of all newly diagnosed cancers.
  • Among women, the three most common cancers will be breast, lung, and colon, which together will account for about half of all new cancer cases.

This year’s projected 585,720 cancer deaths correspond to about 1,600 deaths every day. Among men and women, lung, colon, prostate, and breast cancers continue to be the most common causes of cancer death, with more than 1 out of every 4 cancer deaths due to lung cancer.