Subtle shift in the causes and treatment of cancer in the US underway

Credit: Taconic
Credit: Taconic

At first glance, it appears that little will change between now and 2040 when it comes to the types of cancers that people develop and that kill them, a new forecast shows.

Breast, melanoma, lung and colon cancers are expected to be the most common types of cancers in the United States, and patients die most often from lung, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers, according to the latest projections.

But beneath the surface, changes are occurring due to a shift in the nation’s top causes of cancer, and those trends are likely to affect treatment and research for decades, experts say.

Lung cancer cases and deaths are expected to continue to decline, likely due to the success of anti-smoking campaigns. However, deaths from obesity-related cancers — pancreas, liver, colon — are projected to hold steady or increase, the researchers said.


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In general, researchers expect that cancer cases will continue to increase overall in the United States as the population becomes larger and grayer, said senior researcher Dr. Kevin Nead… “Our population is going to get bigger, and we’re going to see more and more cancers. I think no matter what happens in the future, we’re going to see more cancers.”

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