Clinical Corner - February 2024

Cancer deaths in the United States are falling, with four million deaths prevented since 1991, according to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) annual report published in January 2024. At the same time, the society reported that the number of new cancer cases had ticked up to more than two million in 2023, from 1.9 million in 2022. Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease.

Doctors believe that it is urgent to understand changes in the death rate, as well as changes in cancer diagnoses. This annual report is made possible through the diligent work of all of you working in hospital-based and state cancer registries as well as SEER registries. The ACS highlighted three chief factors in reduced cancer deaths: declines in smoking, early detection, and greatly improved treatments.

Breast cancer mortality is one area where treatment has a significant impact. The death rate from breast cancer has fallen to 27 per 100,000 women in 2019 from 48 per 100,000 in 1975. That includes metastatic cancer, which accounted for nearly 30 percent of the reduction in the breast cancer death rate.

Hopefully these trends will continue for all cancers reported in our cancer registries!