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Cancer Prevention Overview (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version

The Burden of Cancer

In 2015, an estimated 1,658,370 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States, and an estimated 589,430 people will die of cancer.[1] Cancer incidence and mortality help to define the scope of the burden that cancer imposes on society, but these indicators do not fully characterize the impact that cancer has on cancer patients and their families. In addition to the physical morbidity caused by cancer, cancer is frequently associated with emotional distress and an overall reduction in quality of life.[2] Cancer has also been observed to be a financial stressor. In a population-based study in western Washington, 197,840 cancer patients were matched with an equal number of controls by age, sex, and zip code. Cancer patients were 2.6 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than the cancer-free controls (P < .05).[3]


  1. American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2015. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2015. Available online. Last accessed April 1, 2015.
  2. Faller H, Schuler M, Richard M, et al.: Effects of psycho-oncologic interventions on emotional distress and quality of life in adult patients with cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Oncol 31 (6): 782-93, 2013. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Ramsey S, Blough D, Kirchhoff A, et al.: Washington State cancer patients found to be at greater risk for bankruptcy than people without a cancer diagnosis. Health Aff (Millwood) 32 (6): 1143-52, 2013. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: January 30, 2015