Cancer Today: Are We Better or Worse Off?

Cancer cells dyed purple viewed under a microscope over a black background.

Is Cancer More Common?

The most recent comprehensive study found that more than 26.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2019. More than 10 million people died of cancer in that same year. The question facing researchers is about accuracy; were 2010 numbers undercounting individuals or is cancer statistically more common today? Is the increase in total cancer cases higher because more of the world’s population has access to health care and cancer screenings?

Different Types of Cancer, Different Trends

While the overall cancer mortality rate has been declining since 1991 by roughly 32%, that progress is largely attributable to success in specific types of cancer. For example, the prevalence of lung cancer has steadily declined in step with the shrinking number of smokers. Improvements in cancer treatments and early detection also increase survival rates.

Types of Cancer on the Rise

The CDC predicts that colorectal, prostate, and female breast cancer will increase. Additionally, cancer rates in seniors are anticipated to increase as larger portions of the population live longer. The likelihood of developing cancer increases with age.

Cancer Prevention

Today, proactively educating medical professionals, families, and individuals is likely the most effective way to tackle the increasing diagnoses of specific types of cancer. Just as important as care is access to care, which requires policymakers to include more of the population in having ready and affordable access to preventative care and cancer screening.



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