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Why 2024 could be a record year for cancer cases

cancer cases

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has projected a record 2 million new cancer cases in the U.S. for 2024, anticipating an increase in six of the top 10 cancers. The ACS “Cancer statistics, 2024” report revealed projections of 2,001,140 new cancer cases and 611,720 cancer deaths. Although cancer mortality showed a declining trend in 2021, the ACS warned that progress might be hindered by rising incidences in some top cancers.

The growing and aging population are significant contributors to these trends, according to Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, ACS senior vice president. While the proportion of individuals over 65 with cancer is expected to decrease, adults aged 50-64 are projected to witness an increase in cancer diagnoses. Notably, the shift is due to a decline in cancer cases among older adults, specifically prostate and smoking-related cancers in men.

Cancer cases are rising among those under 50, making up a larger share of incidents and being the only age group with an overall increase in cancer cases. Colon cancer has become the leading cause of cancer death among young men and the second-leading cause for young women.

Lung cancer remains the deadliest across all age groups, with 81% of the projected 125,070 lung cancer deaths in 2024 attributed to cigarette smoking. Screening advancements and increased screenings may contribute to the rise in cancer incidences, although the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on screenings is yet to be determined.

Jemal highlighted the importance of acknowledging progress in cancer care, with mortality rates decreasing by 33% since 1991. Despite early detection methods for select cancers, challenges persist for many cancer types. Access to screenings and preventive services remains a concern, particularly for the uninsured, with an estimated 25.6 million nonelderly people lacking coverage in 2022.

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