National Cancer Institute  U.S. National Institutes of Health

Cancer Trends Progress Report – 2007 Update

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Person-Years of Life Lost

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Mortality (2005 data now available)
End of Life

After several decades of steady increases, the U.S. cancer death rate stabilized from 1990 to 1993 and has significantly declined from 1993 to 2005.

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Measuring Cancer Deaths

In 2005, cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon/rectum accounted for more than half of all cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancer alone claimed more than one-fourth of the lives lost to cancer. According to American Cancer Society projections, in 2008 there were 565,650 cancer deaths overall, including 161,840 deaths from lung cancer; 49,960 from cancers of the colon/rectum; 40,930 from female breast cancer; 34,290 deaths from cancer of the pancreas (replacing prostate cancer as the fourth leading cause) and 28,660 from prostate cancer. Cancer mortality usually is measured as the annual number of deaths from cancer for every 100,000 people, adjusted to a standard population.

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The number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year, age-adjusted to a U.S. 2000 standard population.

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Period – 1975–2005

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All sites combined: Death rates increased through 1990, then stabilized until 1993 and fell from 1993 through 2005

Colorectal cancer: Death rates have been falling since 1975

Female breast cancer: Death rates have been falling since 1990

Lung cancer: Death rates have been falling since 1995 due to declines in lung cancer in men and plateau of death rates in women

Prostate cancer: Death rates have been falling since 1994

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Total  Males  Females
Figure E1. Death rates for all cancers: 1975-2005

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Prostate  Female breast  Colorectal  Lung & bronchus
Figure E2. Death rates for common cancers: 1975-2005

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Most Recent Estimates

In 2005, the death rate for all cancers was 184.0 cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year.

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Healthy People 2010 Target

Reduce the overall cancer death rate to 158.6 cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2010.

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Groups at High Risk for Cancer Deaths

Blacks have the highest overall rates for cancer deaths, followed by Whites.

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White  Black  Hispanic  American Indian/Alaska Natives  Asian/Pacific Islander
Figure E3. Death rates for all cancers, by race / ethnicity:  1992-2005

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Key Issues

Although overall death rates are on the decline, deaths from some cancers, such as esophageal, liver, and thyroid cancers, are increasing.

An ongoing challenge for the United States is to find new and better ways to reduce and eliminate disparities in cancer death rates among different populations of Americans.

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Additional Information on Mortality

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National Cancer InstituteDepartment of Health and Human ServicesNational Institutes of