Surveillance Research

We analyze and disseminate population-based cancer statistics and identify gaps and opportunities in the delivery of cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

What We Do

The American Cancer Society's (ACS) Surveillance Research program is led by Rebecca Siegel, MPH, and has these specific objectives:

  • Compile and disseminate current scientific information on cancer occurrence to the public, media, cancer control advocates, ACS staff and volunteers, and community leaders to track progress against cancer and inform cancer control policy and practice in the United States and globally.
  • Project the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected each year in order to provide an estimate of the contemporary cancer burden because reported cancer data lag 2 to 4 years behind the current year. 
  • Identify and track emerging trends and inequalities in cancer occurrence and outcomes.
  • Contribute to the advancement of surveillance research through scientific publications, conference participation, and collaborations across institutions and disciplines.

Each year, we produce the ACS flagship report, Cancer Facts & Figures, along with its companion article, Cancer Statistics, published in the ACS scientific journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

These widely cited reports present the most current rates and trends in cancer incidence, mortality, and survival, as well as the most up-to-date information on symptoms, prevention, early detection, and treatment. 

Key Terms

  • Cancer Surveillance Research: Ongoing and systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of cancer data about the new cancer cases, extent of disease, screening tests, treatment, survival, and death. Its goal is to use data to guide public health policy and action, such as the distribution of health care resources.
  • Cancer Epidemiology Research: Studying the distribution and determinants of cancer—who gets it, where they live, and the risk factors that contribute to its development.
  • Cancer Incidence (also called cancer occurrence): The number of new diagnoses, or cases, of cancer. 
  • Cancer Incidence Rate: A measure of cancer occurrence presented as the number of people who were diagnosed with cancer, among a defined number of people who are at risk of the disease, during a specified period of time. For example, the lung cancer incidence rate was 58.4 per 100,000 people in the US during 2013-2017.
  • Cancer Prevalence: The number of people in a population with a history of a cancer diagnosis.
  • Cancer Death Rate (also called cancer mortality rate): A measure of death from cancer,  presented as the number of people who die from cancer, within a defined number of people at risk of dying from cancer, during a specified period of time. For example, the lung cancer death rate was 38.5 per 100,000 people in the US during 2014-2018. The death rate is not confined to people with cancer, but among all people in the population.

Our Work and Publications

The epidemiologists on the ACS Surveillance Research team regularly update multiple Cancer Facts & Figures reportsan interactive statistics website, and a website to learn and export data about cancer around the world. 

Cancer Facts & Figures Reports 

The Surveillance team analyzes and interprets data to produce these Facts & Figures reports: 

Interactive Cancer Statistics Center

Led by Kimberly D. Miller, MPH, the Cancer Statistics Center allows you to explore, interact with, and share such cancer statistics as: 

  • Estimated new cancer cases and deaths by sex, state, and cancer type in the current year
  • Current cancer incidence, mortality, and survival rates and trends by cancer type
  • Risk factors (e.g., obesity, cigarette smoking) and screening rates by state

View, customize, and download maps, graphs, and charts. You can also export data to Excel.

The Interactive Cancer Atlas

The Cancer Atlas was created by The American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Union for International Cancer Control, and it's now led by Tyler Kratzer, MPH.

This one-stop shop for the best global cancer data available offers:

  • In-depth insights into the cancer burden, major risk factors, and ways leaders worldwide can take action.
  • Information about policies and legislation.
  • A self-paced tour about how 6 countries are taking action against cancer: Australia, Rwanda, China, the Netherlands, Mexico, and the United States.