Please note: This content is an excerpt from the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts & Figures 2012 publication. Please download Cancer Facts & Figures 2012 to see all Tables and Figures noted. Any reproduction or re-use should credit the appropriate Cancer Facts & Figures publication and include a statement of copyright and identify the data source used.


The incidence rates of many cancers have declined in recent years due to numerous factors. Decreases in smoking have manifested as declines in lung cancer incidence rates among men, and more recently among women.1 Colorectal and cervical cancer incidence rates have declined due in part to early detection and removal of precancerous lesions.2 The incidence of stomach cancer has declined due to a decreasing prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection associated with improved hygiene and overall improvements in diet and food storage practices.3 More recently, declines in prostate cancer incidence may be associated with a plateau in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening among men. Female breast cancer incidence rates have remained stable after declining 7% from 2002 to 2003, largely due to reductions in the use of hormone replacement therapy, an important risk factor for breast cancer.4

Despite these improvements in incidence trends for the major cancer sites, incidence rates for several cancers are increasing, including: human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal cancer; esophageal adenocarcinoma; melanoma of the skin; and cancers of the pancreas, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, thyroid, and kidney and renal pelvis. The causes of these increasing incidence trends are unclear, but may reflect the combined effects of changes in cancer risk factors and detection practices. Notably, as the US population continues to shift to older age groups where cancer risk is highest, if rates of other more common cancers remain unchanged or decline, cancers with increasing trends will account for a greater proportion of all cancer cases over time.5

The purpose of this special section is to highlight cancers with increasing incidence rates among people 15 years of age or older and to describe trends by age, race/ethnicity, and stage at diagnosis. This information is intended to inform communities, policy makers, researchers, and private and governmental health agencies charged with cancer prevention and control. Additional information for most of these cancers, including estimated numbers of new cases and deaths, signs and symptoms, and treatment, can be found in Selected Cancers, beginning on page 9 of this report.

Cancer Facts & Figures 2012 Special Section (PDF)