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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported cancer death rates continued to decline among men, women, children, adolescents, and young adults in every major racial and ethnic group in the United States from 2015 to 2019. 

This year’s Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer report, published in October, shows that from 2015 to 2019, overall cancer death rates decreased by 2.1% per year in men and women combined. 

Among men, death rates decreased by 2.3% per year; among women, death rates decreased by 1.9% per year. In addition, the annual decline in death rate accelerated from 2001 to 2019 in both men and women.

“The findings in this year’s Annual Report to the Nation show our ongoing progress against cancer, continuing a more than two-decade trend in declining mortality that reflects improvements in preventing, detecting, and treating cancer,” Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., director of NCI said. 

“The advances shown in the report underscore the importance of working together across society to develop effective, equitable approaches to tackle this complex disease. I look forward to working with all our partners in the cancer community to meet these challenges head-on, because people affected by cancer—and that includes all of us—are counting on it.”

The findings in the report – based on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic – also highlight longer-term trends in pancreatic cancer, as well as racial and ethnic disparities in incidence and death rates. 

The report showed the declines in death rates were steepest in lung cancer and melanoma (by 4% to 5% per year) among both men and women. 

However, death rates increased for cancers of the pancreas, brain, bones, and joints among men and for cancers of the pancreas and uterus among women. 

The researchers noted that racial and ethnic disparities exist for many individual cancer sites. For example, from 2014 to 2018, incidence rates for bladder cancer declined in White, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander (API), and Hispanic men. 

Still, they increased among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) men. In addition, incidence rates for uterine cancer increased among women of every racial and ethnic group from 2014 to 2018, except for White women, who had stable rates. 

From 2015 to 2019, prostate cancer death rates were stable among non-White and Black men but decreased among API, AI/AN, and Hispanic men. 

Likewise, Colorectal cancer death rates were stable among AI/AN men but decreased in men of all other racial and ethnic groups. 

Among women, death rates for lung, breast, and colorectal cancer decreased in nearly every racial and ethnic group. 

The exceptions were API women, among whom breast cancer death rates remained stable, and AI/AN women, among whom breast cancer death rates increased and colorectal cancer death rates remained stable. 

“Factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status should not play a role in people’s ability to be healthy or determine how long they live,” Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said. 

“CDC works with its public health partners—within and outside the government—to address these disparities and advance health equity through a range of key initiatives, including programs, research, and policy initiatives. We know that we can meet this challenge together and create an America where people are free of cancer.”

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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