Cancer In Numbers (Part 1): Predicted Cases and Potential Screening Technologies

As one of the deadliest diseases known to everyone, researchers dedicate years to studying cancer. We have different institutions and organizations that deal with cancer, and we have come to the point of predicting diagnosis cases. As far as predictions go, we will always rely on numbers to explain the details. In this article, we will uncover the details behind the number of cancer diagnoses. In addition, we will also be exploring collections of research that address this increasing number. This research pertains explicitly to screening technology and programs that scientists are working on to reduce the number of deaths caused by cancer.

Top Projected Cancer Cases and Their Potential Screening Technology

The program that allows for this discussion stems from research facilitated by the National Cancer Institute of the United States. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program is a cancer statistics effort that collects data from different places across the country. It started operating in 1973 to ultimately reduce the cancer burden on all citizens of the United States. 

During the first few weeks of 2022, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published an overview of cancer statistics for the coming year. They collected data from the SEER to develop a model-based prediction of how cancer-related statistics would look throughout the year. From this research, they predicted that around 1.9 million individuals would have cancer diagnosed in the US. Of these predicted diagnoses, the top five are cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, and bronchus, colon and rectum, and melanoma.

In the same overview, the researchers stress the importance of screening in preventing cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Furthermore, early screening can reduce deaths caused by breast, colon, rectum, cervix, lung, and prostate cancers. As we point out these top projected cancer cases and screening benefits, we begin to see the appropriateness of discussing one parallel to another.

Breast Cancer

Primarily affecting women, breast cancer sits at the top predicted number of diagnoses, with 290,560 cases. Of these total cases, 287,850 of them will be affecting women. The ACS prioritizes screening for breast cancer, especially for women at high risk.

In terms of potential screening technology, much of the latest research sees prospects in artificial intelligence (AI). A 2022 retrospective study suggests that screening through radiologists and AI can increase the effectiveness of the task. 

The researchers examined over one million mammography studies from 2007 to 2020. From this, they saw that an AI system alone has a less accurate reading than a radiologist. However, when paired together, they observed an increase of 2.6% in sensitivity and 1.0% in specificity. While this may seem small, remember that 1% of the total number of predicted breast cancer cases still amounts to around 2,905 individuals.

Prostate Cancer

While breast cancer largely affects women, prostate cancer only affects men. However, even if it is a disease unique to males, SEER predicts a staggering 268,490 cases in 2022. This brings prostate cancer to the top two predicted cancer cases. 

Being a prevalent cancer, researchers are working on newer screening procedures that are better than the usual prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA blood testing utilizes the amount of an antigen found in blood to determine if a man has prostate cancer. Nonetheless, the universal cutoff point for PSA levels in the blood is still debatable among doctors. Because of this, researchers are looking for other forms of biomarkers coming from both blood and urine. 

Specifically for urine tests, biomarkers such as prostate cancer antigen 3, TMPRSS2:ERG fusion, and urinary mRNA have shown potential as an alternative to PSA. Additionally, using imaging along with biomarker screening proves to be significantly efficient. Researchers are looking to incorporate MRI imaging to improve prostate cancer screening performance.

Lung Cancer

This time, lung cancer almost equally affects both sexes at 117,910 cases for males and 118,830 for females. This disease is especially alarming because of how deadly it is. It tops the 2022 cancer-caused deaths estimate of the SEER with 130,180 predicted deaths. These numbers show the urgency of dealing with cancer earlier, especially as it improves survival.

The standard way to screen for lung cancer is through computed tomography or CT scanning. It can reduce mortality from the disease by at least 20% if diagnosed early. However, the more concerning task aside from the screening technology is the criteria for screening individuals. This allows doctors to diagnose potentially more people leading to less mortality from the population.

To figure out a better criteria for people who need screening, researchers are studying the PLCOm2012 screening eligibility criteria. Compared to the previous criteria USPSTF2013, the PLCOm2012 positively diagnosed more individuals with lung cancer. In addition, the criteria also diagnosed individuals who had more cumulative life expectancy. This means that it diagnosed people who usually are less likely to have lung cancer.

Colorectal Cancer

In total, colorectal cancer has a predicted figure of around 151,030 cases. Currently, the recommended screening technologies include high-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test, fecal immunochemical test, multi-target stool DNA test, computed tomographic colonography, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and traditional colonoscopy. While we already have several options, emerging screening methods include blood-based screening, colon capsule endoscopy, urinary metabolomics, and stool-based microbiome testing. 


With a total predicted number of 99,780 cases, skin melanoma sits at the top five most diagnosed cases. Even while having this number, some health panels still suggest that there is not enough evidence to require regular screening for the disease. 


This situation with melanoma ties in with the idea of overdiagnosis. Some scientists suggest that this cancer may raise concerns with a cancer diagnosis that may never cause the individual any harm. Fundamentally, it questions the rationale for providing early screening for the population. The bottom line is we require more research to decide whether or not to continue with screening for melanoma at a larger scale.

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