Tennessee’s high cancer rates expected to claim 14,530 lives in 2024

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

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By Anita Wadhwani

Tennessee Lookout

More than 43,000 Tennesseans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to new projections by the American Cancer Society which placed the Volunteer State among the top ten in the country for rates of the most common forms of the disease.

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The society’s annual report detailing cancer diagnoses and deaths also found Tennessee had among the nation’s highest cancer death rates between 2017 and 2021 —203 deaths per 100,000 people. It projects 14,530 people will die from cancer before 2024 is over.

Nationally, the overall risk of dying from cancer has decreased steadily in the past 30 years, a trend partially explained by gains in smoking cessation, early detection and advanced treatment.

But incidents of some of the most common forms of cancer are on the rise and the U.S. is expected for the first time to reach a new milestone in 2024: 2 million new cancer cases are expected, a record high. The society attributed the rising cancer diagnoses to population growth, an increasing number of older Americans and a rise in common cancers including breast, prostate, endometrial, pancreatic, kidney and melanoma.

Like much of the rest of the South, Tennessee continues to see high rates of lung cancer. Cigarette smoking causes about 30% of all cancer deaths nationally, but drives 40% of all cancer deaths in parts of the South and Appalachia.