Feb 12, 2024 - News

Arizona cancer diagnoses likely to climb in 2024

Projected new cancer diagnoses in 2024, by state
Data: American Cancer Society; Map: Tory Lysik/ Axios Visuals

Arizonans are estimated to receive 42,670 cancer diagnoses this year, according to new American Cancer Society data.

Why it matters: There have been major improvements in cancer survival, but there's a worrying rise in some cancers at the same time doctors are trying to figure out why they're seeing more young patients with diagnoses.

State of play: Breast, prostate and lung cancers are expected to be the most diagnosed in Arizona this year.

  • Additionally, Arizona's rate of melanoma — the most serious form of skin cancer — is significantly higher than the national average.

Threat level: Cancer diagnoses do not impact all populations equally. For example, Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with — and die of — prostate cancer.

  • ASU professor Dorothy Sears is part of a team working to identify and address socioeconomic factors that play into disparate cancer diagnoses in Arizona's Black, Hispanic and Native American communities.
  • "We need to learn what the barriers are to prevention and screening… [to] combat the rise of cancer in particular communities," she tells Axios Phoenix.

The intrigue: Arizona is estimated to see about 200 fewer cancer deaths this year despite reporting more total cases.

  • The U.S. cancer death rate has dropped a third in the last 30 years, partly due to improved screening and more effective treatments against certain cancers.
  • Yes, but: Diagnoses have been increasing for others, and strong racial and ethnic disparities in cancer deaths persist.

Zoom out: New cancer diagnoses across the U.S. are expected to top 2 million for the first time this year, with people under 50 driving the increase.

  • Doctors say they don't know exactly what's behind the uptick in younger patients.

Parting shot: "It's overwhelming for anybody, but especially for these younger patients who are going on with their daily lives and then suddenly get this life-altering diagnosis and really don't know where to turn," Robin Mendelsohn, co-director of the Center for Young Onset Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Cancers at Memorial Sloan Kettering, tells Axios.

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