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Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2008

Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decrease in the United States between 2004 and 2008. The findings are from the latest “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,” coauthored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.

Report Highlights

  • The overall rate of new cancer diagnoses, also known as incidence, among men decreased by an average of 0.6% per year between 2004 and 2008.
  • Overall cancer incidence rates among women decreased 0.5% per year from 1998 to 2006; incidence rates among women remained level from 2006 through 2008.
  • Lung cancer death rates among women decreased for the second year in a row. Lung cancer death rates in men have been decreasing since the early 1990s.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased among men and women from 1999 through 2008.
  • Breast cancer incidence rates among women decreased from 1999 through 2004, and remained level from 2004 through 2008.
  • Incidence rates of melanoma and pancreas, kidney, thyroid, and liver cancer increased from 1999 through 2008.

Cancer Among Children

Among children aged 19 years or younger, cancer incidence rates increased 0.6% per year from 2004 through 2008, continuing trends from 1992. Death rates decreased 1.3% per year during the same period.

Cancer Among Racial and Ethnic Groups

Black men and white women had the highest cancer incidence rates between 2004 and 2008. Black men and black women had the highest cancer death rates during the same time period, but these groups showed the largest decreases for the period between 1999 and 2008, compared with other racial groups.

Special Feature: Cancers Associated with Excess Weight and Not Enough Physical Activity

For more than 30 years, excess weight, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet have been considered second only to tobacco use as preventable causes of disease and death in the United States. Since the 1960s, tobacco use has decreased by a third while obesity rates have doubled.

The special feature section explains how being overweight and not getting enough physical activity increase cancer risk. The following six cancers are associated with being overweight—

  • Breast cancer among postmenopausal women.
  • Colorectal cancer.
  • Endometrial cancer.
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma.
  • Cancer of the kidney.
  • Cancer of the pancreas.

Several of these cancers also are associated with not getting enough physical activity.


Eheman C, Henley SJ, Ballard-Barbash R, Jacobs EJ, Schymura MJ, Noone AM, Pan L, Anderson, RN, Fulton JE, Kohler BA, Jemal A, Ward E, Plescia M, Ries LAG, Edwards BK. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2008, featuring cancers associated with excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity. Cancer 2012;118(9):2338–2366.