Cancer in the 21st Century


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As new research on cancer prevention, treatment and control progresses, there is much to celebrate in the war against cancer. More available cancer prevention information, earlier detection and an increase in treatment options all lead to people living longer. Over the years, state and federal policymakers and health officials have worked diligently to combat cancers by establishing a variety of programs and enacting laws.

However, most experts would agree that the battle is far from over. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and, according to the American Association of Cancer Care, approximately $183 billion was spent on cancer-related care in 2015. The association estimates the cost of care will increase by 34% ―to $246 billion―by 2030. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 1.8 million new cases of cancer will have been diagnosed and more than 600,000 people will have died of cancer in the United States in 2020. Cancer rates vary by state, often related to historical differences in tobacco use and other lifestyle factors.

Even more grim, cancer has a disproportionate effect on African American populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reports that African Americans have lower five-year survival rates than any other racial and ethnic group. And, they are the most likely population to die from all major types of cancer compared to non-Hispanic white men and women.

As research and policy recommendations for cancer prevention, treatment, control and survivorship are constantly evolving, state and federal lawmakers may face challenges in staying updated and aware of cancer issues. The categories and topics below were derived from the input of scientific experts, patient organizations and other stakeholders who have a deep understanding of cancer-related policies. Please note NCSL provides links to third-party websites for information purposes only and providing these links does not indicate NCSL's support or endorsement of any material.

NCSL Resources:

Additional Resources

NCSL provides links to third-party websites for information purposes only. Providing these links does not indicate NCSL's support or endorsement of any third-party site material. Use of brand or manufacturer names also are informational only. NCSL is not responsible for the opinions or facts on such sites.

NCSL would like to acknowledge Amgen for supporting this update.