Deaths and Cancer

Deaths: Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in the AYA population. Among AYAs, only accidents, suicide, and homicide claimed more lives than cancer in 2011. You can learn more about incidence, mortality, and survival for young adults with cancer in the Snapshot of Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers.

Source: NCI (NIH)1

   •   •   •

Back to: « Cancer

   •   •   •

Survivors may not live as long as people who did not have cancer. The most common causes of death in childhood cancer survivors are:

  • The primary cancer comes back.
  • A second (different) primary cancer forms.
  • Heart and lung damage.

Source: NCI (NIH)2

   •   •   •

The cancer mortality rate—the number of deaths due to cancer per 100,000 people per year—among children ages 0 to 19 years declined by more than 50 percent from 1975-1977 to 2007-2010 (6). More specifically, the mortality rate was slightly more than 5 per 100,000 children in 1975 and about 2.3 per 100,000 children in 2010. However, despite the overall decrease in mortality, nearly 2,000 children die of cancer each year in the United States, indicating that new advances and continued research to identify effective treatments are required to further reduce childhood cancer mortality.

Source: NCI (NIH)3

   •   •   •

Every year, cancer claims the lives of more than a quarter of a million women in America.

Source: CDC Features4

   •   •   •

Between 1982 and 2017, the mortality rate decreased. This may be due to various factors, such as early detection and improvements in treatment. Over the same time period, the five-year relative survival from all cancers combined increased.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare5

   •   •   •

mortality: Mortality refers to the number of deaths that occur at a specific time (usually one year) for which the underlying cause of death is cancer.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare6

   •   •   •

Cancer is the country’s single biggest cause of death. Most New Zealanders will have some experience of it - either personally or through a relative or friend.

Source: New Zealand Health7

Survival Rates: Cancer

In the United States, the likelihood of dying from cancer has dropped steadily since the 1990s. Five-year survival rates for some cancers, such as breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers, now exceed 90 percent. The 5-year survival rate for all cancers combined is currently about 66 percent. For more information, see the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

Source: NCI (NIH)8

   •   •   •

The 5-year survival rate for all cancers combined is currently about 66 percent. For more information, see the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

Source: NCI (NIH)9

   •   •   •

Although survival rates for most childhood cancers have improved in recent decades, the improvement has been especially dramatic for a few cancers, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common childhood cancer. Improved treatments introduced beginning in the 1970s raised the 5-year survival rate for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia from less than 10 percent in the 1960s to about 90 percent in 2003-2009. Survival rates for childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma have also increased dramatically, from less than 50 percent in the late 1970s to 85 percent in 2003-2009.

By contrast, survival rates remain very low for some cancer types, for some age groups, and for some cancers within a site. For example, median survival for children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (a type of brain tumor) is less than 1 year from diagnosis (4). Among children with Wilms tumor (a type of kidney cancer), older children (those diagnosed between ages 10 and 16 years) have worse 5-year survival rates than younger children (5). For soft tissue sarcomas, 5-year survival rates among children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 years range from 64 percent (rhabdomyosarcoma) to 72 percent (Ewing sarcoma) (1). And 5-year survival rates for central nervous system cancers range from 70 percent (medulloblastoma) to 85 percent (astrocytoma) (1).

Source: NCI (NIH)10

   •   •   •

The 5-year overall survival rate among adolescents ages 15 to 19 years with cancer exceeded 80 percent in 2003-2007, similar to that among younger children (6). However, for specific diagnoses, survival is lower for 15- to 19-year-olds than for younger children. For example, the 5-year survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2003-2007 was 91 percent for children younger than 15 years compared with 78 percent for adolescents ages 15 to 19 years (6).

Source: NCI (NIH)11

   •   •   •


  1. Source: NCI (NIH): types/ aya
  2. Source: NCI (NIH): types/ childhood-cancers/ late-effects-pdq
  3. Source: NCI (NIH): types/ childhood-cancers/ child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet
  4. Source: CDC Features: cancer/ dcpc/ resources/ features/ WomenAndCancer/ index.htm
  5. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: reports-statistics/ health-conditions-disability-deaths/ cancer/ about
  6. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: reports-statistics/ health-conditions-disability-deaths/ cancer/ glossary
  7. Source: New Zealand Health: your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ cancer
  8. Source: NCI (NIH): about-cancer/ causes-prevention/ risk/ myths
  9. ibid.
  10. Source: NCI (NIH): types/ childhood-cancers/ child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet
  11. ibid.

   •   •   •

Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.