Cancer Survival Rates Continue to Rise

March 31,2017

For the past 19 years the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and the Centers for Disease Control have collaborated to release the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. The most recent report, published in March of this year, has shown a considerable drop in the number of cancer-caused deaths in nearly all types of cancer, except for two.

The study reviews clinical data collected between 1975 and 2014 from all agencies involved. Today the 5-year survival rates for nearly every form of cancer have increased dramatically. This latest study, led by Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, Ph.D. of the American Cancer Society reviews these survival rates as a way to measure our progress in the fight against cancer. As Dr. Jemal said "while trends in death rates are the most commonly used measure to assess progress against cancer, survival trends are also an important measure to evaluate progress in improvement of cancer outcomes.

Of all the cancers studied only cervical and uterine lacked an upward survival trend. Several forms of cancer showed the highest boost in survival rates, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, and kidney and prostate cancers with survival rates increasing by 25% or more. Thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma also showed dramatic improvements.

The authors of the report said that more preventative measures are needed. Tobacco-related cancers have some of the lowest survival rates and obesity is also a growing risk factor. Education programs and funding will continue to have a significant impact on survival rates in the future.

"The continued drops in overall cancer death rates in the United States are welcome news, reflecting improvements in prevention, early detection, and treatment," says Betsy A. Kohler, Executive Director of NAACCR. "But this report also shows us that progress has been limited for several cancers, which should compel us to renew our commitment to efforts to discover new strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment, and to apply proven interventions broadly and equitably."