Clinical Corner - September 2021

In the latest “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer” which appeared as a pre-print report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, it was reported that in the years 2014-2018 cancer death rates declined for women, men, children and adolescents and young adults (AYAs)! This decline in death rates was especially striking in patients with metastatic melanoma. In some cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer, the declining rates slowed during this period and deaths from prostate cancer levelled off. Sadly, not all the news was positive. Death rates increased for CNS cancers and pancreatic and uterine cancer.

Other findings from the new report to the nation include the following:

  • Overall cancer incidence rates were higher among men than women in every racial and ethnic group with the exception of Asian/Pacific Islanders where the rates were similar.
  • Overall cancer incidence rates were slightly lower among Black patients than White patients
  • Two-year relative survival for advanced-stage melanoma cases diagnosed during 2001-2009 was stable, but improved 3.1% per year for melanoma diagnosed during 2009-2014

It is always interesting to read these summaries and to reflect on our clinical successes as well as our continued challenges. What is not mentioned in these reports is the intense work by you, the registry community, in initiating the abstracts and data retrieval that allow for these analyses. Our cancer registrars, working in hospital settings, central and state registries as well as the NCI-supported SEER registries, represent the foundation that allows for these annual updates.

For our ERS family, the ability to include data that are sent to state and national registries is facilitated by having software that allows for complete and accurate capture and reporting of cancer trends. This is the message that is usually not discussed in annual reports, but the role of our registrars and registry capabilities must be understood and appreciated by clinicians, researchers, governmental agencies and the public every time an “Annual Report to the Nation” is released!