VA Cancer Cases Expected To Rise In 2024, New Study Says

VIRGINIA — The number of cancer diagnoses and deaths is expected to climb in Virginia this year, according to a new study published Wednesday by the American Cancer Society.

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The study authors said about 48,560 people in Virginia are projected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, and 16,420 people are expected to die. Cases are slightly up from the organization’s 2023 projection of 47,100 diagnoses and 15,800 deaths.

The organization estimates the number of new cancer cases and deaths each year. It uses the latest available data on population-based cancer occurrence and outcomes from central cancer registries (through 2020), as well as death data from the National Center for Health Statistics (through 2021).

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The researchers estimated there will be about 2 million new cancer cases across the United States this year, or about 5,480 diagnoses each day. Just under 612,000 people are projected to die from cancer.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause among people under 85, according to the study, published in JAMA.

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Among the organization’s major findings: Cancer deaths continued to decline through 2021, averting over 4 million deaths since 1991. Underlying that long-term decline are fewer smokers, earlier cancer detection, and improved treatment.

However, these gains are “threatened,” the study said, as incidences have increased for six of the top 10 cancers.

In Virginia, prostate cancer is expected to be the leading diagnosis this year, with 9,200 new cases projected.

Virginia New Cancer Diagnosis Estimates 2024

Additionally, lung and bronchus cancer is expected to be the leading cause of cancer deaths this year in Virginia, with 3,380 deaths projected.

Virginia Cancer Death Estimates 2024

About 340 people die every day from lung cancer, the study said. That’s nearly 2.5 times more than the number of people who die from CRC, the second leading cause of cancer deaths.
About 81 percent of the roughly 125,000 lung cancer deaths in 2024 will be directly attributable to cigarette smoking, with an additional 3,500 caused by second-hand smoke, the authors said.

The study also highlighted trends and discrepancies between states and ethnicities. Among them: the 10 southern and midwestern states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility see the highest cancer deaths and lowest life expectancy.

“These states include Texas, where 17% of residents were uninsured in 2022 compared to 2% in Massachusetts, which has the lowest prevalence,” the authors wrote. “In addition, states enact laws and implement programs and regulations that help shape health care provider density, especially in rural areas, and fund initiatives to improve health, such as the Delaware effort that eliminated racial disparities in [colorectal cancer] in 1 decade.”

Furthermore, racial disparities persist in cancer occurrence and survival, the authors said. This is largely due to “structural racism, resulting in longstanding inequalities in wealth that lead to differences in exposure to risk factors and access to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment,” the study said.

The authors pointed to segregationist and discriminatory policies in criminal justice, housing, education, and employment as contributing factors to those discrepancies.

“In 2022, 25% of [American Indian and Alaska Native] people lived below the federal poverty level ($27,750 for a family of four), as well as 17% of Black and Hispanic people, compared to 9% of White and Asian people,” the study said. “Persistent poverty is a risk factor for poor health and mortality, ranking among the leading causes of death alongside smoking. Poverty is consistently associated with higher cancer incidence, later stage diagnosis, and worse outcomes.”

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