New Report: Cancer Deaths are Down But Pancreatic Cancer is Growing
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A report compiled by the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, has been released. The most recent data for this year’s report are from 2019; the findings are based on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s report includes a special focus on trends in pancreatic cancer incidence, death, and survival rates. Although pancreatic cancer accounts for only 3% of new cancer diagnoses, it accounts for 8% of cancer deaths and is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States for both men and women.
From 2001 to 2018, incidence rates of pancreatic cancer increased by 1% per year among both men and women, and from 2001 to 2019, death rates increased by 0.2% per year for both sexes. From 2001 to 2018, incidence rates of two common subtypes of pancreatic cancer, neuroendocrine tumors and adenocarcinomas, increased in both men and women, while unspecified subtypes and other pancreatic tumors decreased.
The report also describes survival improvements by subtype. For example, the one-year relative survival of people diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors increased from 65.9% to 84.2% between 2001 and 2017, and for people diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinomas, it increased from 24.0% to 36.7%. Five-year relative survival also increased between 2001 and 2013, from 43.4% to 65.2% for people with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, and from 4.4% to 6.6% for people with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
These improvements in survival may be associated with improvements in therapy, the researchers said. No improvement was seen for unspecified and other pancreatic tumors, which tended to have a higher proportion diagnosed at older ages than the other types.
The researchers noted that the increases in survival for both adenocarcinomas and neuroendocrine tumors are tempered by the overall increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer, which is generally attributed to the growing prevalence of obesity. And progress in treating pancreatic adenocarcinomas, which account for 80% of pancreatic cancer cases, remains incremental at best, the researchers said.
In response, Linda Tantawi, Lustgarten Foundation CEO said, “Any increase in incidence and survival rates is concerning and reflects both the difficulty of diagnosing pancreatic cancer early as well the complexities in treating this devastating disease. Data like this reinforces the dire need for continued support. As an industry leader, Lustgarten-funded research accelerates the entire field and moves us closer to the answers we urgently need to effect greater improvements in pancreatic cancer survival.”