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Deaths by cancer in the U.S. 1950-2017

Cancer was responsible for around 153 deaths per 100,000 population in the United States in 2017. The death rate for cancer has steadily decreased since the 1990’s, but cancer still remains the second leading cause of death in the U.S. The deadliest type of cancer for both men and women is cancer of the lung and bronchus, accounting for around 76,650 deaths among men alone, in 2019.

Probability of surviving

Survival rates for cancer vary significantly depending on the type of cancer. The cancers with the highest rates of survival include cancers of the prostate, thyroid and testis, with five-year survival rates as high as 99 percent for prostate cancer. The cancers with the lowest five-year survival rates include cancers of the pancreas, liver, and lung and bronchus.

Risk factors

It is difficult to determine why one person develops cancer while another does not, but certain risk factors have been shown to increase a person’s chance of developing cancer. For example, cigarette smoking has been proven to increase the risk of developing a variety of cancers. In fact, around 81 percent of cancers of the lung, bronchus and trachea among adults aged 30 years and older can be attributed to cigarette smoking. A recent poll showed that many U.S. adults believed smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products increased a person’s risk of developing cancer, but a much smaller percentage believed the same for proven risk factors such as obesity and drinking alcohol.

Deaths by cancer in the U.S. from 1950 to 2017 (per 100,000 population)*

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Release date

October 2019


United States

Survey time period

1950 to 2017

Supplementary notes

* Malignant neoplasms. Data for years not listed in the pdf-version of "Health, United States, 2018" were taken from previous reports.
Numbers are for malignant neoplasms. All rates are age-adjusted. 5 Age-adjusted rates are calculated using the year 2000 standard population. Prior to 2001, age-adjusted rates were calculated using standard million proportions based on rounded population numbers. Starting with 2001 data, unrounded population numbers are used to calculate age-adjusted rates.

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Statistics on "Cancer in the U.S."

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