Cancer statistics, 2012

Each week, we select an article from an influential journal that has broad implications for healthcare and has just become available for free online.

This week’s article probably is an annual must-read for almost every healthcare policy maker. This very lengthy piece slices and dices just about every number that exists about cancer in the U.S., and if you study just about any table you’ll come away with an insight you’ve never had before.

Here are just two factoids that struck me: First, Table 4 shows that men (44%) have a higher likelihood than women (38%) of developing some form of cancer at some point during their lives. With the ubiquitous pink ribbons and races designed to raise awareness of breast cancer, many people might assume that women get cancer more than men. Second, also in Table 4, I see that women (6.3%) are catching up to men (7.7%) in developing lung cancer.

A broader issue that the authors discuss is that people from minority racial groups still develop and die from cancer at a higher rate than whites. You have to wonder what the numbers would look like if minorities overall had equal access to healt care and lived in better environments; the study authors certainly have things to say about this.

If you crack open the full text, be prepared to get sucked in to the numbers!

Check out the abstract below or go right to the free full text.

PubMed Citation

CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 Jan;62(1):10-29. doi: 10.3322/caac.20138. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Cancer statistics, 2012.

Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A.


Manager, Surveillance Information, Surveillance Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA.


Each 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. A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the United States in 2012. During the most recent 5 years for which there are data (2004-2008), overall cancer incidence rates declined slightly in men (by 0.6% per year) and were stable in women, while cancer death rates decreased by 1.8% per year in men and by 1.6% per year in women. Over the past 10 years of available data (1999-2008), cancer death rates have declined by more than 1% per year in men and women of every racial/ethnic group with the exception of American Indians/Alaska Natives, among whom rates have remained stable. The most rapid declines in death rates occurred among African American and Hispanic men (2.4% and 2.3% per year, respectively). Death rates continue to decline for all 4 major cancer sites (lung, colorectum, breast, and prostate), with lung cancer accounting for almost 40% of the total decline in men and breast cancer accounting for 34% of the total decline in women. The reduction in overall cancer death rates since 1990 in men and 1991 in women translates to the avoidance of about 1,024,400 deaths from cancer. Further progress can be accelerated by applying existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population, with an emphasis on those groups in the lowest socioeconomic bracket. CA Cancer J Clin 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.

Copyright © 2012 American Cancer Society, Inc.

Leave a Reply