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Cancer Statistics 2011


Every year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the United States in the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival based on incidence data from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Statistics for 2011 were published by Siegel et al online on June 17, 2011 and in the July-August print issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.1 This year, the report focus is “The Impact of Eliminating Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities on Premature Cancer Deaths”.

Key points:

  • 1 in 4 deaths in the United States can be attributed to cancer
  • A total of 1,596,670 new cancer cases and 571,950 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the United States in 2011
  • Lung cancer is the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States
  • Overall cancer incidence rates were stable in men in the most recent time period after decreasing by 1.9% per year from 2001 to 2005
  • In women, cancer incidence rates have been declining by 0.6% annually since 1998
  • Overall cancer death rates decreased in all racial/ethnic groups in both men and women from 1998 through 2007, with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native women, in whom rates were stable
  • African American and Hispanic men showed the largest annual decreases in cancer death rates during this time period (2.6% and 2.5%, respectively)
  • Lung cancer death rates showed a significant decline in women after continuously increasing since the 1930s
  • The reduction in the overall cancer death rates since 1990 in men and 1991 in women translates to the avoidance of about 898,000 deaths from cancer
  • Cancer death rates for individuals with the least education are more than twice those of the most educated. The elimination of educational and racial disparities could potentially have avoided about 37% (60,370) of the premature cancer deaths among individuals aged 25 to 64 years in 2007 alone

Colorectal cancer (CRC) key points:

Notes: * Projected death rates are for colon and rectal cancer, combined
Based on information from Siegel, et al1

  • CRC is projected to be the 3rd most commonly occurring cancer and 3rd most common cause of cancer-related death in both men and women
  • CRC is projected to account for 9% of cancer diagnoses in both men and women
  • Recent rapid declines in CRC incidence rates largely reflect increases in screening that can detect and remove precancerous polyps
  • CRC mortality rates have continued to decrease
  • The decrease in cancer deaths related to CRC largely reflects improvements in early detection and/or treatment

The Impact of Eliminating Disparities on Premature Death from Cancer

Level of education is often used as a marker of socioeconomic status. In 2007, cancer death rates in the least educated segment of the population were 2.6 times higher than those in the most educated segment. The racial patterns in educational disparities were generally similar across the 4 major cancer sites (prostate, female breast, lung and bronchus, and colorectal), although the magnitude of the association was generally weaker for Hispanics. The largest socioeconomic disparity was seen for lung cancer; the death rate in men was 5 times higher for the least educated than for the most educated.1

ManageCRC.com Commentary

The authors of the Siegel et al article note that, if everyone in the United States experienced the same overall cancer death rates as the most educated non-Hispanic whites, 37% (60,370 of 164,190) of the premature cancer deaths could potentially have been avoided. This analysis suggests that eliminating socioeconomic disparities in African Americans could potentially avert twice as many premature cancer deaths as eliminating racial disparities, underscoring the dominant role of poverty in cancer disparities.1 Healthcare reform as currently enacted in the United States will not be sufficient to eliminate the disparities in socioeconomic status that result in poor health outcomes. Healthcare providers need to pay special attention to screening and prevention in populations at risk and to advocate for equal preventive, primary and tertiary health care for all socioeconomic groups.


  1. Siegel R, Ward, E, Brawley O, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2011. CA Cancer J Clin 2011;61;212-236. doi:10.3322/caac.20121  Link to free full-text http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/content/full/61/4/212

Article Created On : 7/13/2011 1:36:36 PM             Article Updated On : 7/13/2011 1:36:36 PM