National Cancer Institute  U.S. National Institutes of Health

Cancer Trends Progress Report – 2011/2012 Update

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In the Report
Summary Tables
Early Detection
Life After Cancer
End of Life

Report Highlights

Major Conclusions

The nation is making progress toward major cancer-related Healthy People targets.

  • Death rates for the four most common cancers (prostate, female breast, lung, and colorectal), as well as for all cancers combined, continue to decline.

  • The rate of cancer incidence has declined since 1998.

  • Length of cancer survival has increased for all cancers combined. For all sites, the proportion of people surviving five years from diagnosis in 2003 (most recent year with five-year follow up) was 66.7 percent. Improvement in survival must continue to meet the Healthy People 2020 objective for five year survival of 72.8 percent.

  • Adult cigarette smoking prevalence has been slowly declining since 1991, while smoking prevalence among adolescents has declined since the late 1990s. Despite these declines, one in five adults and adolescents is a smoker.

  • Substantial decreases in secondhand smoke exposure have been realized since the beginning of the 1990s for all subgroups and across a variety of measures. This includes biological measures, as well as work place policies, rules about smoking in the home, and, more recently, through state and local smoke-free indoor air legislation.

  • More adults report getting some leisure time physical activity.

  • Adult sun protective behaviors have risen slightly since 2005, but young adults, especially young men, show much lower levels of this behavior.

  • Teen indoor tanning has decreased since 2005. However, recent use by girls, especially non-Hispanic white older teen girls remains high. Typically, these older teen girls are not protected by state indoor tanning age restrictions.

The nation is losing ground in other important areas that demand attention.

  • Incidence rates of some cancers are rising including melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, childhood cancer, cancers of the kidney and renal pelvis, leukemia, thyroid, pancreas, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, testis, myeloma, and esophagus.

  • Lung cancer incidence rates in women continue to rise but not as rapidly as before.

  • Death rates for cancer of the pancreas, liver, intrahepatic bile duct, and corpus and unspecified uterus are increasing.

  • While the percent of smokers attempting to quit smoking each year has recently risen, now 50 percent, successful quitting percentages have been low and recently have shown only slight improvement.

  • While initiation rates have declined for 12 to 17 year olds, initiation rates among 18-25 year olds have risen.

  • Although progress has been made in all segments of the population, subgroups including children living in homes with smokers, young adults, subgroups of nonsmoking workers (for example, blue collar occupations and hospitality industry), and non-Hispanic blacks have higher rates of exposure to secondhand smoke.

  • Dentists are half as likely as physicians to advise their patients to quit smoking.

  • More people are overweight and obese.

  • Alcohol consumption has risen slightly since the mid 1990s. Fruit and vegetable intake is not increasing. Red meat and fat consumption are not decreasing.

  • Adult indoor tanning is an issue, especially for young females with more than one in five having engaged in such practice within the past 12 months. Use is lower for Hispanic females, males in general, and is lowest among non-Hispanic blacks.

  • Despite some recent signs of increase in adult sun protective behaviors, adult sunburn percentages have risen since 2005.

  • Cancer treatment spending continues to rise along with total health care spending.

  • Unexplained cancer-related health disparities remain among population subgroups. For example, blacks have elevated rates of both new cancers and cancer deaths.

  • Pap test use peaked in 2000 at 81 percent. Since then, it has fallen. Rates were 74 percent in 2010. Mammography rates peaked in 2000 at 69 percent. Rates dropped slightly between 2003 and 2005. Between 2008 and 2010, mammography rates stabilized at 67 percent; screening for colorectal cancer remains lower than Pap testing and mammography, despite its proven effectiveness. However, use of colorectal cancer tests is increasing.

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