The American Cancer Society reports a decreased death rate but continued preventable cancer deaths as well as racial and socioeconomic disparities in cancer care.
A little over 1.9 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2022, according to the 2022 Cancer Facts & Figures report from the American Cancer Society (ACS).
About 609,360 deaths from cancer are expected this year, equivalent to 1670 deaths per day.
Estimates were based on reported cancer incidents and mortality through 2018 and 2019 and do not include the unknown impact of COVID-19.
However, the ACS suggests that disruption of health services from COVID-19 has resulted in millions of missed or postponed appointments, screenings, and follow-ups for patients with cancer.
The report indicated that overall age-adjusted death rate for cancer had dropped by 32% between 1991 to 2019; in 1991, the rate peaked at 215 deaths per 100,000 people.
The decline in the death rate was driven by progress against the 4 most common cancer types: lung, colorectal, breast and prostate.
Which Cancers Are Increasing?
In 2022, invasive breast cancer is estimated to be newly diagnosed in 287,850 women, as incidence rates continue to increase by about 0.5% annually. For lung cancer, the ACS estimates that 236,740 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed.
Though reductions in smoking over the past 2 decades have reduced lung cancer mortality rates, approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States are still caused by smoking, a preventable cause.
At least 42% of newly diagnosed cancers in the United States (about 805,600 cases in 2022) are potentially avoidable, including 19% of cancers caused by smoking and at least 18% caused by a combination of excess body weight, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and physical activity.
Cancer Causing Higher Medical Costs, Financial Hardship
The National Cancer Institute projects that cancer-related direct medical costs in the United States will increase to $246 billion by 2030, though this is suggested to be an underestimate due to growing treatment costs.
Additionally, the ACS noted that lack of health insurance is strongly associated with medical financial hardship and prevents people from receiving optimal cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.
According to the National Health Institute Survey, about 30 million Americans aged 18 to 64 years were uninsured during the first half of 2020, although that number is likely underestimated due to the pandemic.
Early estimates comparing 2020 and 2021 show that pandemic-related unemployment has resulted in a 1% decline in the proportion of people with private health insurance.
Disparities Persist in Cancer Treatment
This year, the ACS highlighted disparities in cancer care treatment for the American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) population including later diagnosis and lower survival rates.
Cancer incidence among people who are AIAN is higher than among Whites for lung, colorectal, and kidney cancers, and cancers associated with infectious agents.
AIANs have lower 5-year survival rates for most cancer types compared with Whites, with the largest difference for stomach cancer 5-year survival rates (19% and 32% respectively).
These results suggest less access to quality health care and significant obstacles to early detection and treatment for AIANs.
The ACS also acknowledged other racial and ethnic disparities in the United States.
Black men have the highest overall cancer mortality rate (221 per 100000) than any other racial/ethnic group.
Prostate cancer mortality among Black men is more than twice that of all other men.
Black women have 41% higher breast cancer death rates compared with White Women.
Asian and Pacific Islander men and women have the lowest overall cancer incidence and mortality; however, they the highest liver and stomach cancer rates, approximately double the rates for persons who are White.
Hispanic people have lower overall rates for the most common cancers compared but the highest rates for cancers associated with infectious agents.
The cervical cancer incidence rates for Hispanic people are 30% higher than for White people, and liver and stomach cancer incidence rates are about twice that of White people.
In addition to racial disparities, the ACS reports that cancer death rates are higher among people with lower socioeconomic status, and the gap is widening due to higher prevalence of cancer risk factors.
Thus, “eliminating disparities in cancer is an overarching goal of the American Cancer Society,” states the report.