Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

American Cancer Society Flags Lack of Cancer Prevention, Racial Disparities in Report

NEW YORK – The American Cancer Society on Wednesday released its Cancer Statistics 2024 report describing population-based cancer occurrence and outcomes in the US and called for greater investment in prevention strategies and in reducing disparities in health outcomes.

The report flags the need for better strategies to specifically prevent colorectal cancer, since its incidence is increasing in adults under 50. Moreover, colorectal cancer has now become the top cause of cancer death in men and the second cause of cancer death in women. The experts involved in the report suggested wider use of genetic testing as one way of identifying people at risk of hereditary colorectal cancer.

"The continuous sharp increase in colorectal cancer in younger Americans is alarming," Ahmedin Jemal, senior VP of surveillance and health equity science at the American Cancer Society and senior author of the report, said in a statement. "We need to halt and reverse this trend by increasing uptake of screening, including awareness of noninvasive stool tests with follow-up care, in people 45 [to] 49 years [old]. Up to one-third of people diagnosed before 50 have a family history or genetic predisposition and should begin screening before age 45 years."

Prior studies have consistently found that current genetic testing guidelines stipulating when to evaluate people for cancer predisposition miss a significant proportion of those with at-risk genetic variants.

The report authors also highlighted racial disparities in access to germline genetic testing among Black, Asian, and Hispanic people, which may be contributing to lower overall survival rates among these patients because without appropriate testing they may be missing out on the chance to receive targeted therapies.

In endometrial cancer, for example, the report authors noted that racial disparities in survival outcomes "will be exacerbated without equity in both genetic testing and drug dissemination."

Jemal and colleagues also identified worse outcomes compared to their white counterparts among Black patients with prostate, stomach, and uterine corpus cancers and among Native American patients with liver, stomach, and kidney cancers. Mortality rates for these cancers were twofold higher in these racial groups, as compared to white patients.

Overall, cancer mortality has dropped by 33 percent since 1991, according to the report, due to reductions in smoking, earlier detection of some cancers, and more effective treatments including targeted therapies and immunotherapy. Despite these gains, the authors noted that more effort is needed to understand why the age of cancer patients is shifting from older to middle-aged individuals.