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Cancer Deaths are Decreasing, but New Cases are Expected to Reach Peak in 2024


Over 4 million cancer deaths have been reverted since 1991, but new cancer cases are estimated to reach over 2 million, according to new data from an annual American Cancer Society report.

Cancer Deaths are Decreasing, but New Cases are Expected to Reach Peak in 2024 / Image credit: ©vitanovski/AdobeStock


New data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) show that overall cancer mortality in the US has steadily declined in the past 30 years, however, new cancer cases are projected to reach over 2 million in 2024 for the first time ever.1

Results from the organization’s annual report on cancer facts and trends showed that since 1991, over 4 million deaths from cancer were averted, but this progress is threatened by increasing incidence for 6 of the 10 most commonly diagnosed cancers: breast, prostate, endometrial, pancreatic, kidney, and melanoma.1

The findings were published January 17, 2024, in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

“We’re encouraged by the steady drop in cancer mortality as a result of less smoking, earlier detection for some cancers, and improved treatment,” said lead author Rebecca Siegel, MPH, senior scientific director, surveillance research, ACS, in the organization’s press release. “But as a nation, we’ve dropped the ball on cancer prevention as incidence continues to increase for many common cancers – like breast, prostate, and endometrial, as well as colorectal and cervical cancers in some young adults.”2

For the annual report, researchers collected the most recent data on population-based cancer occurrence and outcomes using incidence data collected by central cancer registries (through 2020) and mortality data collected via the National Center for Health Statistics (through 2021).1


Siegel and colleagues estimated that in 2024, there will be 2 001 140 new cancer cases, which is equivalent to approximately 5480 diagnoses every day. They also estimated that 611 720 persons in the US will die from cancer, equivalent to approximately 1680 deaths per day.1

In addition, researchers estimated that the highest number of new cases will be for breast cancer (313 510), prostate cancer (299 010), and lung and bronchial cancers (234 580) and that the greatest number of deaths will be from lung and bronchial cancers (125 070), colorectal (53 010), and pancreatic cancer (51 750).1

Between 2015 and 2019, incidence rates increased by 0.6%-1% annually for breast, pancreatic, and uterine corpus cancers; by 2%-3% for prostate, liver (women), kidney, melanoma, and human papillomavirus-associated oral cancers; and by 1%-2% for cervical (individuals aged 30-44 years) and colorectal cancers (persons aged <5 years).1

Colorectal cancer moved from being the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in both men and women aged <50 years in the late 1990s to now being the first in men and second in women (behind breast cancer), according to the report.1

“The continuous sharp increase in colorectal cancer in younger Americans is alarming,” said senior author Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, senior vice president, surveillance and health equity science, ACS, in the organization’s press release.2

Dr Jemal continued: “We need to halt and reverse this trend by increasing uptake of screening, including awareness of non-invasive stool tests with follow-up care, in people 45-49 years. Up to one-third of people diagnosed before 50 have a family history or genetic predisposition and should begin screening before age 45 years. We also need to increase investment to elucidate the underlying reasons for the rising incidence to uncover additional preventive measures.”2

New cancer cases are decreasing in patients aged ≥65 years, declining from 61% of cancer diagnoses from 2019 to 2020 to a projected 58% in 2024. Patients aged 50-64 years now make up a growing number of people with cancer.1

Investigators also observed that patients with cancer are getting younger overall. The proportion of cancer diagnoses in persons aged 50-64 years increased from 25% in 1995 to 30% during 2019-2020, whereas the proportion of adults aged ≥65 years decreased from 61% to 58%, despite both age groups growing in the general population (from 13% to 19% for ages 50-64 years and from 13% to 17% for ≥65 and older years).1

“The shift toward more middle-aged patients likely in part reflects steep decreases in incidence of prostate and smoking-related cancers among older men and increased cancer risk in people born since the 1950s associated with changing patterns in known exposures, such as higher obesity, as well as others yet to be elucidated,” wrote researchers.1

The report also highlighted racial disparities in cancer mortality rates. Compared to White individuals, mortality rates are 2-times higher for prostate, stomach, and uterine corpus cancers in Black persons and for liver, stomach, and kidney cancers in American Indian and Alaska Native persons. Furthermore, the mortality rate of Black women with breast cancer is 41% higher than White women despite a 4% lower incidence rate.1

“Continued national progress will require increased investment in cancer prevention and access to equitable treatment, especially among American Indian and Alaska Native and Black individuals,” wrote Siegel et al.1


  • Siegel R, Giaquinto AN, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2024. CA: A Cancer J Clin. Published online January 17, 2023. doi:10.3322/caac.21820
  • Cancer mortality still declining, but progress threatened by increasing incidence as projected new cancer cases top two million for 2024. News release. American Cancer Society. Published January 17, 2024. Accessed January 18, 2024. https://pressroom.cancer.org/acs-cff-2024

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