Cancer deaths in the US: good news and bad

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
cancer deaths, cancer incidence, HPV, vaccine, melanoma

The latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2009 has found that overall cancer death rates have continued to decline in the United States; however, the death rate for some cancers are on the increase.

The report has been produced since 1998; it is co-authored by researchers from the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). It is now available online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and will be published in print issue 3, volume 105.

In regard to the good news, the overall cancer death rate has dropped among both men and women, among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for all of the most common cancer sites, including lung, colon and rectum, female breast, and prostate. However, death rates have continued to rise during the latest time period (2000 through 2009) for melanoma of the skin (among men only) and for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and uterus. Another disturbing finding of the report is that human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers have increased for HPV-associated oropharyngeal and anal cancers; in addition, the vaccination coverage levels in the U.S. during 2008 and 2010 remained low among adolescent girls.

The authors note that in the early 1990s a decline in overall cancer death rates began in the United States and that trend is continuing. From 2000 through 2009, cancer death rates decreased by 1.8% per year among men and by 1.4% per year among women. Death rates among children up to 14 years of age also continued to decrease by 1.8% per year. During 2000 through 2009, death rates among men decreased for 10 of the 17 most common cancers; lung, prostate, colon and rectum, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney, stomach, myeloma, oral cavity and pharynx, and larynx. However, they increased for melanoma of the skin and cancers of the pancreas and liver.

During the same 10-year period, death rates among women decreased for 15 of the 18 most common cancers: lung, breast, colon and rectum, ovary, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, brain and other nervous system, myeloma, kidney, stomach, cervix, bladder, esophagus, oral cavity and pharynx, and gallbladder. However, they increased for cancers of the pancreas, liver, and uterus.

In addition to tracking cancer deaths, the investigators evaluated cancer incidence and found an overall decrease. The report notes that between 2000 and 2009, overall cancer incidence rates decreased by 0.6% per year among men, were stable among women, and increased by 0.6% per year among children (ages 0 to 14 years). During that time period, incidence rates among men decreased for five of the 17 most common cancers: prostate, lung, colon and rectum, stomach, and larynx. However, they increased for six others: kidney, pancreas, liver, thyroid, melanoma of the skin,and myeloma).

Among women, incidence rates decreased for seven of the 18 most common cancers: lung, colon and rectum, bladder, cervix, oral cavity and pharynx, ovary, and stomach). However, they increased for seven others: thyroid, melanoma of the skin, kidney, pancreas, leukemia, liver, and uterus. Incidence rates were stable for the other 17 most common cancers, including breast cancer in women and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in men and women.


The most disturbing finding of the researchers was the rise in HPV-associated cancers because HPV infections can be prevented with the vaccine. From 2000 through 2009, incidence rates for HPV-associated oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer increased among white men and women; in addition, rates for anal cancer among white and black men and women increased. Incidence rates for cancer of the vulva increased among white and black women. Rates of cervical cancer declined among all women except American Indian/Alaska Natives.

Furthermore, cervical cancer incidence rates were higher among women living in low versus high socioeconomic areas. Among men, rates for penile cancer were stable.

The report revealed that in 2010, less than half (48.75) of girls ages 13 through 17 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, and only 32% had received all three recommended doses. In general, vaccination series completion rates were generally lower among some population groups such as girls living in the South, those living below the poverty level, and among Hispanics. In 2010, the national three-dose coverage estimate among girls ages 13 through17 fell far short of the 80% goal established by the US Government’s Healthy People 2020.

The US rate is significantly lower than vaccination rates reported in Canada (50-85%) and the United Kingdom and Australia combined (greater than 70%). The authors note that low overall vaccine uptake in the United States is likely due to a number of issues, including inadequate provider recommendations, provider reimbursement concerns, infrequent use of reminder/recall systems that would promote completion of the three-dose series, and other factors.

Take home message:

The HPV vaccine for girls would lower the rate of HPV infections and subsequent cancers; however, vaccinating boys would also have an impact HPV infections could be reduced in all age groups, from teens to seniors, could be reduced by practicing safe sex. The use of condoms if any possibility of infection existed would markedly reduce the risk of infection.

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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It took 5 years from concept to the dropping of the atom bomb, and not much longer to get man into space. But there has been hardly any progress in finding a cure for cancer. The figures show that during the four decades since the US Government has declared ‘War on Cancer’ the number of people killed from this disease equals that of the entire population of the USA! Even with the new ‘chemotherapy’ drugs, the ‘survival rates’ of the majority of advanced cancers have remained at the same dismal level as half a century ago. And no wonder! Cancer has been turned into the single largest market for patented pharmaceutical drugs. And not only cancer 'treatment' but also the 'treatment' of side effects which represents another multi-billion dollar drug market. A cure for cancer the drug way? No way! It would threaten the global markets of drug companies. Now, we don't want that, do we?
The drug companies have already diversified! They are inventing mental diseases at the rate of 15 a year, medicating people at an enormous rate. Every shooting you have experienced in the USA were committed by those on psychotropic medicine! Most crimes are committed by those on illegal drugs or prescription drugs. Nearly half the population of the USA are on psycho drugs!
The cancer incidence has escalated to epidemic proportions over recent decades, with lifetime risks in the United States now reaching one in two for men and one in three for women. In 2000, more than 1.2 million new cancer diagnoses were made, and some 550,000 Americans will die from the disease. The overall increase of all cancers from 1950 to 1995 was 55 percent, of which lung cancer accounted for about a quarter. Meanwhile, the incidence of a wide range of non-smoking cancers, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and adult brain cancer, is increasing at proportionately greater rates, including an alarming rise in childhood cancer of over 20 percent. Chemotherapy side effects include Cataracts. Early menopause. Heart problems. Infertility. Liver problems. Lung disease. Osteoporosis. Reduced lung capacity. Increased risk of other cancers. Radiation therapy side effects include Cataracts. Cavities and tooth decay. Heart problems. Hypothyroidism. Infertility. Lung disease. Intestinal problems. Memory problems. Osteoporosis. Increased risk of other cancers Surgery side effects include Lymphedema and iatrogenic death. If you die from any of the above it is not included in the cancer figures.
Do I detect anti-smoker propaganda here? I have ACS figures in front of me that show NEW CASES of lung and bronchus cancer in the USA INCREASED by a not insubstantial 31% from 2000 to 2008. In 2000, there were 164,100 estimated new cases and in 2008, there were 215,020 new cases. It should not be a surprise to learn that we now know that NON smokers account for 80% of new cases of lung cancer and this seriously calls into question the claim that smoking is the cause of lung cancer given that smoking prevalence has reduced by around 50% over the last generation or so. It may well be that better care and treatment of lung cancer has reduced the amount deaths but from plus 30% new cases to an unstated minus death rate?? The ACS statistics also show lung and bronchus cancer deaths have continued to increase in both males AND females and most other cancers have also increased. Can someone explain how these figures can be so different now ?