Headline: Cancer Statistics...
Human Lives, Not Just Numbers!

Cancer statistics from the CDC show that U.S. cancer deaths have remained remarkably static for the last decade; holding between 22% and 23% of all deaths.  Cancer has stubbornly retained its #2 spot following cardiovascular deaths in the number one spot.

Over Half-a-Million Deaths Per Year!

The two tables below cover 1999 through 2013 and almost show a static situation for deaths from all types of cancers in the U.S. for the total population through 2007. 

Apparently 2009 was not a good year, statistically speaking, in that the percentage increase started climbing and broke well over 1% in 2011 and 2013 indicating more deaths from cancer than we had seen in prior years.

Year Deaths (% change)
1999
549,829
2001
553,760 (.71% increase)
2003
556,902 (.56% increase)
2005
559,312 (.43% increase)
2007
559,650 (.06% increase)
2009
562,340 (.48% increase)
2011
571,950 (1.70% increase)
2013
580,350 (1.46% increase)

The table below showing Incidence or New Cases of cancer for the entire U.S. population for the same years as above, shows a fairly constant rate of increase for each two-year interval. 

Of interest is that there was a .54% decrease in 2008, so based on a one-year interval, instead of the two-year intervals in the table, the number of cancer deaths appears to be increasing while the number of new cases is showing a decline. 

Could it be that our aging population is responsible for more deaths while overall, people are making better lifestyle choices resulting in less new cancer cases?  Time will tell.

Approaching 1.5 Million New Cases Per Year!

Year New Cases (% change)
1999
1,214,732
2001
1,272,705 (4.7% increase)
2003
1,317,810 (3.5% increase)
2005
1,372,910 (4.2% increase)
2007
1,444,920 (5.2% increase)
2009
1,479,350 (2.38% increase)
2011
1,596,670 (7.93% increase)
2013
1,660,290 (3.98% increase)

It was encouraging to see that the percentage increases in cancer deaths for each two-year period from 1999 through 2007 were declining but no so good that from 2009 through 2013 we started seeing higher increases. 

It is not so encouraging to see that the cancer statistics for incidences of new cancer cases seem to be on the rise except for the drop in 2009 then showing wildly varying percentages in 2011 and 2013.  Maybe it's due to the rise in factory farms, GMO foods and global warming.  Who knows?

All the things that contribute to cancer are still with us; an increasingly toxic world, a cumulative effect of bad lifestyle choices such as tobacco use, poor choices in nutrition, lack of exercise, stress, obesity and excessive weight. If the decline in new cases continues, maybe it is a sign that we are waking up and starting to take charge of our health.

The data in the tables shown above and below are courtesy of the American Cancer Society and can be viewed at Cancer Facts & Figures. Beside just presenting dry statistical figures, there is a wealth of general information about cancer by state, type of cancer, age, sex and many other factors.

What Do the Cancer Statistics Reveal
About Costs?

Comparing the last two years for which reliable data is available from the NIH shows an alarming trend.

In 2006 the NIH put the total cost of cancer at $206.3 billion which broke out as:

$78.2 billion for direct medical costs
$17.9 billion in lost productivity due to the illness
$110.2 billion in lost productivity due to premature death.

The following year, in 2007 NIH put the total cost at $219.2 billion; a 12.9% increase, broken out as:

$89.0 in direct medical costs
$18.2 billion in lost productivity due to illness
$112.0 billion in lost productivity due to premature death

What Does a Specific Cancer
Treatment Cost?

Cancer statistics show that the big increase was in direct medical costs; a one-year increase of 13.8%.

Cancer is definitely expensive and getting worse.  Lately there have been many, many articles in most main stream magazines and newspapers about the out-of-control costs of cancer drugs, most drugs in fact. 

On March 13, 2007, the Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled, "From Wall Street, a Warning About Cancer-Drug Prices". 

It listed the average per-patient cost of treatment for Avastin from Genentech at $46,600 for Colorectal cancer and $56,300 for lung cancer;

Vectibix from Amgen at $36,000 for colorectal cancer;

Erbitux from Imclone and Bristol at $40,000 for colorectal cancer;

Lucentis from Genentech at $48,000 for age-related macular degeneration (for two years);

Revlimid from Celgene at $67,000 for multiple myeloma; and

Sutent from Pfizer at $46,500 for kidney cancer. 

Jumping forward to March, 2008 and an Associated Press article carried on Fox News, we learn that the price tag on colon cancer treatments is now $60,000; pancreatic cancer treatments go for $4000 per month; more advanced biotech drugs are pushing treatment rounds to $100,000; and the cost of cancer treatments continue to rise
at the rate of 15% per year.

Costs of cancer treatments vary widely over time and depends on many factors such as the choice of hospital, in-patient or outpatient, type of cancer, home care, insurance and many others.  Do your research and ask lots of questions.

Cancer Statistics Compared for
Men vs. Women

The table below shows the incidence versus deaths for the most common types of cancer for men and women.  Putting sex specific cancers aside (prostate, breast, ovary, uterus) the cancer statistics for lung, pancreas, colon/rectum, leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s are very similar for both sexes.

The male cancer profile:

Cancer in Males IncidenceDeaths
Melanoma
4%
n/a
Pharynx/esophagus
3%
4%
Lung
14%
31%
Pancreas
2%
5%
Kidney/Liver
3%
3%
Colon/rectum
11%
10%
Urinary/bladder
6%
3%
Prostate
33%
10%
Leukemia
3%
4%
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
4%
4%
All Others17%23%

The Female cancer profile:

Cancer in Females IncidenceDeaths
Melanoma
3%
n/a
Brain
n/a
2%
Leukemia
n/a
4%
Thyroid
3%
n/a
Lung
12%
25%
Breast
32%
15%
Pancreas
2%
6%
Colon/rectum
11%
11%
Ovary
4%
5%
Uterus
6%
3%
Urinary/bladder
2%
n/a
Multiple myeloma
n/a
2%
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
4%
4%
All Others21%23%

The conclusion seems to be that we are getting only marginally better at treating cancer but failing miserably at preventing cancer.  Yet the bulk of the spending is still focused on the treatment side with the search for new drug therapies taking precedence.

The most telling quote comes from Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, a leading cancer researcher at the National Cancer Institute, who says, "there are no therapeutic vaccines that have been shown to be effective."  (Business Week, April 30, 2007, "Teaching the Body to Fix Itself")

A change of direction is in order.

Let's try to avoid becoming one of the cancer statistics and see where cancer research is really headed.

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