One of the most important responsibilities of the National Cancer Institute is communicating our nation’s progress against cancer to the public. The Cancer Trends Progress Report is a prime example of fulfilling that part of our mission. An online summary of trends in US cancer control measures, this web-based report provides up-to-date information on a range of topics across the cancer control continuum—from disease prevention to cancer death or survivorship—and data to help us track the successful implementation of research-based methods of early detection and risk reduction into practice.
The Cancer Trends Progress Report draws on data from numerous federal departments and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and several offices and agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
As the report details, the nation is making progress toward major cancer-related targets but losing ground in other critical areas. An essential component of cancer control is responding to new and changing factors that influence the risk of developing or dying from this disease. Mortality trends are the best indicators of progress against cancer. The rate of death from all cancers combined continues to decline among both men and women, among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for the most common types of cancer, including colon, lung, female breast, and prostate cancers. Along with mortality rates and other standard measures of cancer control, this report includes new and updated measures that address current issues like e-cigarettes, changes in screening recommendations, and the cost of cancer care.
Our most significant update this year is the new chapter on genetic testing, which can be found in the Prevention section because of its utility in predicting cancer risk. Advancements in genomics have led to improved accessibility of genetic testing. The Healthy People 2020 objective is related to increasing testing among women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Other new measures in this year’s report include exposure to inorganic arsenic, processed meat consumption, UV exposure and sun-protective behaviors by level of sun sensitivity (all in the Prevention section), and the prevalence of cancer survivors who are overweight (in the Life After Cancer section). We look forward to continuing to improve this report as we add more measures that we think will be useful to readers.
Researchers and cancer control professionals can use the Cancer Trends Progress Report to elicit research ideas and set priorities for cancer control program planning to advance cancer control progress. We at NCI, along with our partners in this initiative, hope that you will find this report to be a valuable reference tool and a stimulus for action. We must not forget that the numbers in this report reflect the lives and struggles of millions of our fellow citizens. NCI remains committed to advancing scientific progress and facilitating its application on behalf of each of them. This report reflects our overarching mission: we support cancer research to help all people live longer, healthier lives.
Robert Croyle, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
National Cancer Institute