Progress Toward Healthy People 2020: CDC Report Claims Reduction in Cancer Incidence

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Results of an analysis of 2012 cancer incidence and survival from various cancer registries, published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, indicates reduced incidence of overall cancer across the United States.

Launched in December 2010, Healthy People 2020 has an agenda to achieve significant improvement in the health of the population in America by 2020, with disease-specific milestones established along the path. The project aims to reduce the number of new cancer cases, illness, disability, and death from cancer.

As a part of this overall objective, CDC analyzes data across the country, comparing cancer incidence and survival rates and reporting them to the public. The latest report has released analysis of data from the U.S. Cancer Statistics (USCS) for 2012, which is the most recent data available. USCS includes high quality incidence data from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (SEER), survival data from NPCR, and mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System.


Here are the key findings of the report:

  • A total of 1,529,078 new cases of invasive cancers were diagnosed in the United States in 2012. Highest incidence was in those 75 years and older, which corroborates the association of cancer and ageing
  • Annual incidence rate was 483 per 100,000 among men and 412 per 100,000 among women.
  • All-sites cancer ranged between 371 and 515 per 100,000 persons. Puerto Rico had the lowest incidence rates for all sites compared with Washington DC and the 50 states. Additionally, Puerto Rico also had the lowest incidence for lung cancer and female breast cancer.
  • As has been reported in individual studies, prostate cancer incidence did see a reduction in 2012 compared with 2011.
  • Thirty states achieved the Healthy People 2020 targets for reducing incidence rates for colorectal cancer, and 27 states met the target for cervical cancer.
  • Overall, more than 65% of those diagnosed with cancer survived 5 years or longer following their diagnosis between 2001 and 2011. The younger population (less than 45 years) performed much better with 5-year survival than the older population, irrespective of gender or race. Highest rates for 5-year survival were achieved for prostate cancer (97%) and female breast cancer (88%). A gender bias was observed—the 5-year survival after any cancer diagnosis was lower for blacks (60%) than for whites (66%), and more so for black females (57% compared with 66%).
  • Based on data from SEER and NPCR, in 2012, cancer incidence was higher in states in the eastern United States compared to the rest of the nations.

The authors attribute the decrease in prostate cancer incidence to the recommendation by the US Preventive Service’s Task Force (USPSTF) against using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for screening men for prostate cancer. Studies recorded an 8% reduction in the use of the PSA test following the USPSTF recommendation: from 32% in 2008 to 24% in 2013.

The authors urge the population—and particularly, the healthcare providers—to follow the new screening recommendations by USPSTF for the various cancers to be able to achieve improved cancer outcomes in the population. Maximizing efforts to prevent cancer, improve adherence to cancer screening recommendations, and assure timely and appropriate cancer care for all persons is needed to achieve the national cancer objectives set forth in Healthy People 2020, they write.