Maui News

Hawai‘i Cancer Rates on Decline

January 12, 2015, 10:21 AM HST
* Updated January 12, 10:24 AM
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The state's cancer rates are on the decline. Courtesy image.

The state’s cancer rates are on the decline. Courtesy image.

By Maui Now Staff

The American Cancer Society’s annual report revealed that national cancer rates have declined by 22 percent over the last 20 years. Declines were shown to be the highest in northeastern states of the US, and lowest in southern states.

The declining numbers has averted 1.5 million deaths that could have occurred if previous rates continued.

The decline in deaths is partly attributed to a decrease in tobacco use, as well as improvements in treatment, prevention, and early detection of the disease.

Cancer rates rose through the majority of the 20th century, peaking in 1991 as a result of rampant tobacco use among men.


For 2015, Hawai‘i is projected for 6,730 new cases of cancer. An estimated 1,140 of these cases are projected to be female breast cancer, 720 colon cancer, 890 lung cancer, and 710 prostate cancer. It is predicted that 2,470 will die from cancer throughout the state.


“The continuing drops we’re seeing in cancer mortality are reason to celebrate, but not to stop,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “Cancer was responsible for nearly one in four deaths in the United States in 2011, making it the second leading cause of death overall. It is already the leading cause of death among adults aged 40 to 79, and is expected to overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death among all Americans within the next several years. The change may be inevitable, but we can still lessen cancer’s deadly impact by making sure as many Americans as possible have access to the best tools to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.”

The American Cancer Society compiles the report each year, based on the most recent data on cancer cases, deaths, and recoveries from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The report can be found in a consumer-friendly publication, “Cancer Facts & Figures 2015,” and in “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.” The reports also predict the incidence of new cancer cases and deaths in the US for the current year.

Mortality Stats

  • The average annual decline in cancer death rates from 2007 to 2011 was slightly larger among men (1.8 percent) than women (1.4 percent). These declines include mortality rates for cancer of the lungs, breast, prostate, and colon.
  • Lung cancer death rates declined 36 percent between 1990 and 2011 among males and 11 percent between 2002 and 2011 among females due to less tobacco use.
  • Death rates for women with breast cancer have declined by over one-third (35 percent) from peak rates, while prostate and colon cancer death rates are each down by nearly half (47 percent).

Estimates for 2015

  • It is predicted that there will be 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 cancer deaths in the US this year.
  • Prostate, lung, and colon cancers will account for about one-half of all cases in men, with prostate cancer alone accounting for about one-quarter of new diagnoses.
  • The three most commonly diagnosed types of cancer for women this year will be breast, lung, and colon cancer–which will account for one-half of cases in women. Breast cancer alone is expected to account for 29 percent of all new cases for women in the US.
  • 589,430 Americans are estimated to lose their lives from cancer this year, or about 1,600 deaths per day.
  • The most common causes of cancer death are lung, prostate, and colon cancer for men, and lung, breast, and colon cancer for women. These four cancers account for almost one-half of all cancer deaths, with more than one-quarter of all cancer deaths due to lung cancer.
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