Cancer Cases Expected to Spike in 2024

Cancer Cases Expected to Spike in 2024

In a report released on January 17, the American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts that new cancer cases will reach a record high of over 2 million in 2024. While the risk of cancer-related deaths has decreased, the incidence of six common cancers—breast, prostate, endometrial, pancreatic, kidney, and melanoma—is on the rise, particularly among younger populations.

The latest estimates indicate a 2 percent increase from the ACS’s 2023 projections. According to Rebecca L. Siegel, lead author of the report and senior scientific director of surveillance research at the ACS, overall cancer incidence remains stable in men and slightly increases by 0.1 percent per year in women. The growth in cancer cases is attributed to the aging and expansion of the population.

Prostate cancer shows the most rapid increase, rising by 3 percent annually, largely due to advanced-stage disease diagnosis. The report highlights a concerning trend of rising cancers in younger individuals, including colorectal cancer in those under 55 and cervical cancer in women aged 30 to 44. Oral cancers linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) and liver cancer in women are also on the rise.

The ACS’s 2024 estimates are based on data reported from 2006 to 2020 in all 50 states, with projections for the following four years. However, the report does not account for the potential impacts of COVID-19 and its vaccines on cancer incidence, prompting caution from experts like Dr. Harvey Risch, professor emeritus in epidemiology at Yale University.

Dr. Risch suggests that relying on older data may not accurately reflect recent incidence changes, citing a deficit of about 11 percent in the 2020 data due to pandemic-related lockdown effects. The ACS researchers acknowledge that their report does not currently consider the potential effects of the pandemic on cancer statistics.

As for the reasons behind the increase in cancer cases, experts dismiss the possibility of overdiagnosis and question if increased screening is a contributing factor. The obesity epidemic is considered a partial explanation, but other factors like changes in diet, gut microbiome, overuse of antibiotics, and microplastic exposure are also being explored.

Stress and shifts in sexual behavior may play a role, particularly in the rise of cervical and oral cancers, linked to HPV. Dr. Yuhong Dong, an infectious disease specialist, suggests that early engagement in sexual activity and multiple sexual partners could increase the likelihood of HPV infection, a known carcinogenic virus.

While the ACS data currently show no effects of COVID-19 and vaccines on cancer incidence, concerns are raised about the potential impact of frequent COVID-19 vaccine use on cellular genes, making them vulnerable to cancer. Some experts also express concerns about the presence of the SV40 promoter/enhancer gene in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and its potential interactions with cancer pathways.

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