Overall Cancer Deaths Continue to Decline

According to a recent report, overall cancer death rates continue to decrease.

In the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,  the statistics are true for men, women and children. Death rates went down for 11 of 16 of the most common cancer types in men, and 13 of the 18 most common cancers for women between 2010 and 2014. 

Dr. Keith Gray, a surgical oncologist at The University of Tennessee Medical Center says progress is being made.   

“As an oncologist, I experience firsthand how cancer adversely affects patients and their families physically, emotionally and financially,” Gray said. “When we’re battling cancer in the trenches with our patients, sometimes it’s hard to see the progress we are making and that overall we are winning the war.” The annual report is an important reminder of the significant progress made in the fight against cancer. It encourages patients and caregivers to keep going. 

The overall decline in cancer incidence and mortality over the past three decades can be attributed to: 

  • Improved screening methods and compliance
  • Emphasis on patient and provider education and outreach
  • Earlier detection
  • Safer and more advanced surgical techniques
  • Advances in chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy 

“We must continue momentum in all of these areas,” said Gray. 

He also would like to see the medical community intensify efforts around pancreas and liver cancer, which have traditionally been difficult to treat. Efforts should also be stepped up in populations where cancer is increasing, detection is delayed, and treatment options and research dollars are limited. 

“Despite these advances and a future emphasis on precision medicine,” said Gray, “I believe our greatest opportunity as a nation is to focus on helping people stop smoking, increase their physical activity and begin healthy eating habits.” 

Tobacco use and the obesity epidemic account for nearly 50 percent of all cancer deaths.  “I’m so proud to be a part of the team at the University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Cancer Institute. Our organization provides the most compassionate, comprehensive and state-of-the-art care in our region”. 

The annual report is a collaborative effort from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. 

To read the report, visit the Journal of the National Cancer Institute’s website. To learn more about programs and services offered at the Cancer Institute visit www.utmedicalcenter.org/cancer-institute