Statistics for Cancer

Prevalence Rates of Cancer

In 2014, about 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States.

Source: NCI (NIH)1

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About 70,000 young people (ages 15-39) are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States - accounting for about 5 percent of cancer diagnoses in the United States. This is about six times the number of cancers diagnosed in children ages 0-14.

Source: NCI (NIH)2

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How common is cancer in children?

Although cancer in children is rare, it is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children in the United States. In 2014, it is estimated that 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 will die of the disease in the United States (1).

As of January 1, 2010, there were approximately 380,000 survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer (diagnosed at ages 0 to 19 years) alive in the United States (1). The number of survivors will continue to increase, given that the incidence of childhood cancer has been rising slightly in recent decades and that survival rates overall are improving.

Source: NCI (NIH)3

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Cancer occurs more frequently in adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years than in younger children, although incidence in this group is still much lower than in older adults. According to NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program (3), each year in 2001-2007 there were:

  • 32.1 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 children ages 0 to 14 years
  • 138.6 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years
  • 2,053.8 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 people aged 40 years or older

About 70,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year.

Source: NCI (NIH)4

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Cancer survivors largely consist of people who are 65 years of age or older and women. Of the 11.7 million people living with cancer in 2007, 6.3 million were women, and the largest group of cancer survivors were breast cancer survivors (22%).

Source: CDC Features5

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Cancer is a major cause of illness in Australia and has substantial social and economic impact on individuals, families and communities. For all cancers combined, the incidence rate increased between 1982 and 2008, before decreasing in 2013 and an expected decrease in 2017. The decrease has mainly been observed in males, and is strongly influenced by changes in the incidence rate of prostate cancer.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare6

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More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.

Source: NHS Choices UK7

World Prevalence Rates of Cancer

Around the world, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and the number is expected to increase due to the growth and aging of the population, as well as reductions in childhood mortality and deaths from infectious diseases in developing countries(1).

Source: CDC NIOSH8

Survival Rates for 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)9

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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)10

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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)11

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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)12

Causal Statistics for Cancer

“On average, about 30 to 35% of cancers relate to smoking,” says Dr. John A. Milner of NIH’s National Cancer Institute. “About 30 to 35% relate to diet. Overall, it’s estimated that about 90% of cancers are due to factors in the environment. Something other than our genes are triggers.”

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)13

Death Statistics for 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)14

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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)15

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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)16

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

Source: CDC Features17

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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 Welfare18

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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 Welfare19

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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 Health20

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References

  1. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ about-cancer/ causes-prevention/ patient-prevention-overview-pdq
  2. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ aya
  3. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ about-cancer/ causes-prevention/ risk/ infectious-agents/ hpv-vaccine-fact-sheet
  4. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ childhood-cancers/ child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet
  5. Source: CDC Features: cdc.gov/ cancer/ dcpc/ resources/ features/ WomenAndCancer/ index.htm
  6. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: aihw.gov.au/ reports-statistics/ health-conditions-disability-deaths/ cancer/ about
  7. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ Cancer/ 
  8. Source: CDC NIOSH: cdc.gov/ niosh/ topics/ cancer/ 
  9. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ about-cancer/ causes-prevention/ risk/ myths
  10. ibid.
  11. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ childhood-cancers/ child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet
  12. ibid.
  13. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ 2008/ March/ docs/ 02capsules.htm
  14. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ aya
  15. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ childhood-cancers/ late-effects-pdq
  16. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ childhood-cancers/ child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet
  17. Source: CDC Features: cdc.gov/ cancer/ dcpc/ resources/ features/ WomenAndCancer/ index.htm
  18. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: aihw.gov.au/ reports-statistics/ health-conditions-disability-deaths/ cancer/ about
  19. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: aihw.gov.au/ reports-statistics/ health-conditions-disability-deaths/ cancer/ glossary
  20. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ cancer

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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.