Division Director's Message

One of the most important responsibilities of the National Cancer Institute is communicating our nation’s progress against cancer to the public. The Cancer Trends Progress Report is one of the means by which we fulfill this responsibility. An online summary of trends in US cancer control measures, this web-based report provides up-to-date information on a wide range of topics across the cancer control continuum—from disease prevention to cancer-related mortality or survivorship—and data to help us track the successful implementation of research-based methods of early detection and risk reduction.

The Cancer Trends Progress Report draws on data from numerous federal departments and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and several offices and agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

As the report details, the nation is making important progress toward major cancer-related targets but losing some ground in others. Mortality trends are the best indicators of progress against cancer. The rate of death from all cancers combined continues to decline among both men and women, among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for the most common types of cancer, including colon, lung, female breast, and prostate cancers. Nevertheless, mortality rates are increasing for some cancers, and important differences among subpopulations reflect both chronic and, for some groups, substantial health disparities. Along with mortality rates and other standard measures of cancer control, this report includes new and updated measures that address current issues like e-cigarettes, changes in screening recommendations, and the cost of cancer care.

The 2020 report contains two new measures in our Prevention chapter: 1) E-cigarettes on our Youth Tobacco Use page and 2) Colorectal Cancer on our Genetic Testing page. Use of e-cigarettes is an extremely relevant issue in public health today, especially with the current e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) epidemic. As new data emerges, we will update relevant graphs with the latest information. We look forward to continuing to improve this report as we add more measures that we think will be useful to readers.

Researchers and cancer control professionals can use the Cancer Trends Progress Report to stimulate research ideas and set priorities for cancer control program planning to advance cancer control progress. We at NCI, along with our partners in this initiative, hope that you will find this report to be a valuable reference tool and a catalyst for action. The numbers in this report reflect the lives and struggles of millions of our fellow citizens. NCI remains committed to advancing scientific progress and facilitating the application of scientific evidence on behalf of each of them. This report reflects our overarching mission: the support of cancer research to help all people live longer, healthier lives.

robert croyle signature

Robert Croyle, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

National Cancer Institute