The American Cancer Society (ACS) released today their annual report on cancer facts and trends, Cancer Statistics, 2023, showing overall cancer mortality has declined by 33% in the last 30 years, which translates to roughly 3.8 million deaths that were averted. The report also estimates that in the coming year, there will be 1,958,310 new cancer cases and 609,820 cancer deaths in the U.S.
The most encouraging finding shows that there has been a significant drop in the number of cervical cancer cases in the U.S. Between 2012 and 2019 in women between the ages of 20 and 24, there has been a 65% reduction in new cervical cancer diagnoses following the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
“The large drop in cervical cancer incidence is extremely exciting because this is the first group of women to receive the HPV vaccine, and it probably foreshadows steep reductions in other HPV-associated cancers,” said Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director, surveillance research at the ACS, and the lead author of the report. Further, the ACS noted, the cervical cancer statistics provide solid real-world evidence on the efficacy of vaccines in the fight against cancer and portends lowered incidence not only in other HPV-related cancers, but in vaccines that are currently being developed targeting the human immune system to nip cancer before it can take hold.
Unfortunately, the news regarding prostate cancer shows that it continues to increase in prevalence, rising at three percent per year from 2014 to 2019, with the increase driven by the diagnosis of advanced disease. The second leading cause of cancer death in men trailing only lung cancer, prostate cancer had shown steady decline for the previous two decades.
“The increasing percentage of men presenting with advanced prostate cancer, which is much more difficult to treat and often incurable, is highly discouraging,” said Karen E. Knudsen, PhD, CEO of the ACS. “In order to end cancer as we know it, for everyone, it is imperative for us to focus on cancers where trends for incidence and mortality are going in the wrong direction.”
In order to begin addressing this disturbing trend, the ACS announced it will launch a new prostate-cancer initiative called IMPACT (Improving Mortality from Prostate Cancer Together), which will see organization leveraging its advocacy, patient support, and research capabilities. A large focus of IMPACT will be to address healthcare disparities associated with prostate cancer that sees an incidence rate among Black men that is 70% higher than in White men, and mortality rates among Black men that are between two and four times higher than those of other racial or ethnic groups.
“ACS is committed to utilizing a tripartite strategy to reverse prostate cancer disparities and reduce death rates from prostate cancer in all demographics and disparities for Black men by 2035,” added Knudsen.
According to William Dahut, CSO of the ACS: “IMPACT will fund bold new cancer research programs that connect the laboratory, the clinic, and the community.” In addition, the program intends to help expand patient support to allow broader access to quality prostate cancer screening and treatments, while advocating for public policy changes that can directly impact the burden of the disease on the U.S. population.
“Our overall goals, for all men, can only be accomplished with community partnerships, including standing shoulder to shoulder with trusted organizations that share our vision to meaningfully address disparities in prostate cancer,” said Knudsen. “This is a critical initiative, and we are seeking partnerships with diverse stakeholders to ensure its success.”