The rate of newly diagnosed cancer cases (incidence) is one way to measure progress against cancer. A lower rate of new cases suggests greater progress is being made.

Another important measure is the proportion of cancers diagnosed at a later stage of development. The stage of a cancer shows how far the disease has progressed and spread within the body. The earlier the stage at diagnosis, the better the chances are for a cure. Downward trends in the proportion of late cancer diagnoses are a sign that screening is working for cancers for which early detection methods are available.

This section describes trends in the rates of new cancers by cancer site and by racial and ethnic group. It also includes data on the proportion of cancers diagnosed at a late stage for six of the major cancer sites (female breast, lung, colon, rectum, cervix, and prostate) where cancer screening has been shown to make a difference in outcomes and is recommended or is being widely used (with the exception of prostate cancer screening, for which the highest grade assigned by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [USPSTF] is a grade C, meaning that, for men aged 55 to 69 years, the decision to undergo periodic prostate-specific antigen [PSA]-based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one, and that before deciding whether to be screened, men should have an opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their clinician). In this report, late stage colon, rectum, cervix, and prostate cancer cases are distant stage cases only. Late stage female breast and lung cancer cases include both regional and distant stage cases.

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Stage at diagnosis