Reports have indicated that cancer rates in the United States are continuing to decline. Since 1991, deaths caused by cancer have declined by 23%. However, the disease is still the second leading cause of death in America, only behind heart disease.
Health experts believe that the decline in cancer deaths is the result of improved screenings and the decline in smoking rates. It is estimated that 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2016. Nearly 600,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer this year.
Currently, the most common cancer diagnosis is thyroid cancer. This is because highly advanced imaging technologies have allowed doctors to locate small thyroid cancers that pose no real medical threats. Some doctors have said that about 10% to 15% of the population has some form of thyroid cancer.
Attending physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Dr. Michael Tuttle said, “There is no question, the data is the data, we’re making more diagnoses. But most of those diagnoses are very small thyroid cancer and many of us are questioning the clinical significance of that thyroid cancer.”
While the overall picture suggests a steady decline of cancer, there still exist major disparities regarding who is able to access cancer screenings and treatments. It has been shown that black males have the highest overall rates of cancer, and they are two and a half times more likely to pass away from prostate or stomach cancer than white males.
CEO and president of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention Dr. Gina Villani said, “We do know that minorities in general have access to lower-quality cancer care to begin with and lower volume of specialists, so that has an impact on your survival.”
Additionally, while black women and white women are diagnosed with breast cancer at the same rate, black women are more likely to die from the disease.
Epidemiologist and CEO of Black Women’s Health Imperative Linda Goler said, “The gap between black women and white women has gotten wider over time and that reflects who gets access to quality treatment.”