Increases in certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer among younger people, are contributing to the projected 2,001,140 new cases of cancer expected to occur in the United States this year.
The latest statistical analysis from the American Cancer Society has revealed that while cancer mortality has decreased since 1991, thanks to improved detection methods, less smoking, and better treatment options, some types of cancer are on the increase. And this will likely drive the number of new cancer cases to over 2 million in 2024.
The analysis — published on January 17 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians — estimates that 2,001,140 new cancer cases and 611,720 cancer deaths will likely occur this year. Moreover, California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania are expected to have the highest number of new cancer diagnoses.
Still, the data shows that cancer mortality rates continue to fall, which the American Cancer Society says has prevented over 4 million deaths since 1991.
Which types of cancers are increasing?
Even though preventative measures and treatments have helped drive down mortality rates, the continued rise in specific types of cancer has health experts concerned. For example, the statistics showed that from 2015 to 2019, the incidence of breast, pancreas, and uterine cancers increased by 0.6 to 1% annually.
Additionally, the number of prostate, female liver, kidney, melanoma, and human papillomavirus-associated oral cancers has risen by 2 to 3% every year. Cervical cancer cases among 30- to 40-year-old females are also on the rise, increasing by 1 to 2% annually.
The data also found that prostate, stomach, and uterine cancer mortality rates are twice as high for Black people, and mortality rates for liver, stomach, and kidney cancers are two-fold higher for Native American people compared to white individuals.
However, colorectal cancer rates among people younger than 55 are especially concerning. Each year, the number of people in this age group diagnosed with the disease increases by 1 to 2%.
The disease is now the leading cause of cancer-related death in men and the second in women younger than 50. Half a century ago, colon cancer was the fourth leading cause of cancer mortality among people in this age range.
According to a 2023 review article published in the Journal of Surgical Oncology, increased consumption of processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks, and alcohol may be driving the increase in colon cancer among young people. In addition, lack of physical activity and an altered gut microbiome may also play a role.
Still, factors contributing to the increase in colon cancer diagnoses among younger people remain unclear.