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Risk of Having, Dying From Cancer Falling

Annual Status Report Shows Improvement in Cancer Survival, Prevention
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Cancer Status Report Shows Progress continued...

But some of the largest gains were in childhood cancer survival.

The report shows that survival rates for childhood cancers increased by 20% in boys and 13% in girls. More than 75% of childhood cancer patients currently survive at least five years beyond their diagnosis compared with dismal survival rates in the 1960s when childhood cancers were nearly always fatal.

Overall, researchers found that death rates from all cancers combined have been decreasing since the early 1990s. Death rates decreased for 11 of the top 15 cancers among men and eight of the top 15 cancers in women.

But some cancers continue to have low survival rates, including cancers of the lung, liver, and pancreas. These cancers are typically diagnosed at late, advanced stages since no effective screening test exists. In addition, even when found at relatively early stages, these cancers still have relatively poor survival rates.

Researchers also reported progress in cancer frequency rates:

  • Among men, cancer frequency rates have declined for seven of the top 15 cancer sites: lung, colon, oral cavity, leukemia, stomach, pancreas, and larynx. They increased only for melanoma and cancers of the prostate, kidney, and esophagus.
  • Among women, cancer incidence rates decreased for six out of the top 15 cancer sites: lung, colon, cervix, pancreas, ovary, and oral cavity. Increases were seen among breast, thyroid, bladder, and kidney cancer and melanoma.

Racial Differences Persist

But the report also shows that minority groups still face a higher risk of cancer death compared with non-Hispanic whites.

Compared with white men and women, the relative risk of death from all cancers ranged from 16% higher in Hispanic men to 69% higher in American Indian/Alaska Native men. Only Asian/Pacific Islander women had a slightly (1%) lower risk of cancer death compared with white women.

For example:

  • Black men were at higher risk of dying of 12 cancers compared with white men, with the increased risk ranging from 9% (lung cancer) to 67% (oral cavity).
  • Black women had a higher risk of death from 12 cancers, with the increase ranging from 7% (lung cancer) to 82% (corpus uterus and melanoma).
  • Non-Hispanic white and Asian/Pacific Islander cancer patients tended to have higher survival rates than other racial and ethnic groups except for patients with brain cancer and leukemia.
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