Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog




Cancer Diagnoses are on the Rise as Deaths are Declining – Here’s Why

The New York Times just published a noteworthy article reporting that while cancer diagnoses are climbing in the U.S., the rate of cancer deaths is declining. Scientists believe it is crucial to understand the reasons for these respective phenomena. The number of overall diagnoses in the U.S. now stands at over two million annually. 

Why Cancer Rates are Falling, and “Unambiguous Good News” About Breast Cancer 

There are several factors for why the mortality rate for cancer is declining. Some of the reasons are behavioral, like a greater societal resistance to smoking than in years past, and some factors relate to detecting cancer early on and improved treatment methods. Metastatic breast cancer diagnoses, for example, were once viewed through a grim lens. However, the mortality rate for breast cancer was nearly cleaved in half from 1975 to 2019. This helps inform the fact that the five-year survival rate for breast cancer stands at nearly 90%

Currently, CRI is funding several immunologists who are focused on breast cancer research and improving patients’ lives. 

The Root Causes for New Cancer Cases Remains Ambiguous 

There is a current increase in diagnoses for several forms of cancer: breast, prostate, melanoma, and others. Additionally, there are some cancers that require a nuanced look regarding their number of cases. Liver cancer is on the rise, but only among women, and people under 55 are experiencing a higher rate of colorectal cancer diagnoses.  

According to the New York Times article, scientists are baffled about why rates of colorectal cancer among younger people have been steadily increasing since the 1990s – a sobering statistic for the second deadliest cancer in the U.S. There are currently eight approved immunotherapy treatments for colorectal cancer, including four checkpoint inhibitors. Despite its rise in prevalence among younger people, colorectal cancer is still largely diagnosed in older people.  

CRI is funding over 10 immunologists who focus on colorectal cancer

Deciphering the Findings with Nuance 

The New York Times article concludes that the more scientists search for cancer, the more they seem to find it. There is no clean, clear-cut answer for why this is the case. As screening technology continues to evolve, doctors are finding cancers at a higher rate. Some of these cancers are harmless and never spread, but it can be impossible to determine if a cancer is benign or threatening. This presents yet another challenge for researchers to tackle. 

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