Cancer Death Rates

Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer

Overall cancer death rates decreased 1.5% on average per year from 2001 to 2017. The rate of dying from cancer went down quicker among men (-1.8%) than among women (-1.4%). These decreases were seen in the most common types of cancer, including lung cancer and colorectal (colon) cancer.

From 2013 to 2017, overall cancer death rates fell in every racial/ethnic group, decreasing most among non-Hispanic black men (-2.6%) and least among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) men (-0.5%). This is the first time this report has included rates for non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks.

The overall cancer death rate was highest among non-Hispanic black people, followed by non-Hispanic AI/AN and white people and Hispanic people. The rate was lowest among non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander people.


Among men, death rates decreased for 11 of the 19 most common cancers, were stable for 4 cancers (including prostate), and increased for 4 cancers (oral cavity and pharynx, soft tissue including heart, brain and other nervous system, and pancreas).

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Among women, death rates decreased for 14 of the 20 most common cancers, including the 3 most common cancers (lung and bronchus, breast, and colorectal). Death rates went up for cancers of the uterus, liver, brain and other nervous system, soft tissue including heart, and pancreas. The rate was stable for oral cavity and pharynx cancer.

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Overall cancer death rates among children went down an average of 1.4% per year during 2013 to 2017.

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Death rates for melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, went down 6.1% per year among men and 6.3% among women.

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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer continues to be the top cause of cancer death, accounting for about one-fourth of all cancer deaths. But rates went down 4.8% per year among men and 3.7% among women from 2013 to 2017.

Photo of a man and a woman