Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    From Bad to Better: U.S. Cancer Rates Continue to Drop

    Report: Overall Cancer Incidence and Death Rates Are Down, but Seven Cancers Are on the Rise

    Racial Disparities Improve, but Persist

    Gains were most impressive among African-American and Hispanic men. Death rates from 1999 to 2008 for African-American and Hispanic men dropped by 2.4% and 2.3% per year, respectively, compared to an annual decrease of 1.8% for all men.

    Despite that progress, the report found that cancer disparities persist for many minorities.

    African-American men, for example, have a 15% higher cancer incidence rate than white men and a 33% higher death rate.

    There’s less cancer diagnosed among African-American women compared to white women, but African-American women have a 16% higher death rate than white women.

    Some Cancers Increasing

    The report includes a special section highlighting seven cancers that are on the rise.

    Those include:

    The Rising Risk of HPV

    Researchers saw some of the steepest increases in HPV-related oral cancers among middle-aged men.

    “So rates were higher and increased at a faster rate for men in the 55 to 64 age group compared to men over 65,” says Edgar P. Simard, PhD, MPH, a senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society. That was surprising, Simard says, because cancer rates are typically higher in adults over age 65.

    HPV infection of the mouth and throat has been linked to oral sex.

    HPV-related cancers usually take years to grow, which is why they’re often successfully caught in women who get regular cervical cancer screenings.

    But Simard notes that doctors don’t check for HPV infection in the throat. “There really is no early detection method that’s currently available.”

    Additionally, doctors aren’t sure if the HPV vaccine will prevent oral as well as genital cancers. “At the moment, that’s unknown,” he says.

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas