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January 26, 2024

American Cancer Society’s 2024 Report Offers Mixed News

On January 17, 2024, the American Cancer Society released its annual report with estimates of cancer deaths and new cases, and with key population-health data. The good news: cancer deaths through 2021 have continued to decline. The bad news: the incidence of six of the top ten cancers are increasing.  These include cancers of the breast, uterine corpus, and pancreas.  

Even more concerning is the increase in certain cancers in younger people: cervical cancer in patients aged 30 to 44, and colorectal cancer in patients younger than 55. The report notes that colorectal cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in men and the second leading cause in women, up from being the fourth leading causes of cancer death for both in 1990.  Moreover, according to a CNN article regarding the report, doctors are seeing younger patients with early-onset colorectal cancer who are  eating well and exercising, fueling questions about current prevention efforts. 

In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendation for when people should start screening for colorectal cancer from 50-75 to 45-75 (with screening from 75-85 being an individual decision).  However, the rising incidence of colorectal cancer in people younger than 45 suggests that further changes to screening recommendations and methods are warranted.  

Finally, the report notes that cancer disparities continue, with higher mortality rates for certain cancers among Black and Native American people than among White people.

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