Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Deadliest Cancers in the U.S. in 2023

Lung cancer tops list, taking an estimated 350 lives each day, according to American Cancer Society report

spinner image hi res image of an MRI scan on a digital screen
da-kuk / getty images

Overall, cancer deaths have declined year over year in the United States, but the disease remains a major killer among men and women — second only to heart disease. The latest projections from the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimate 609,820 cancer deaths in 2023 — roughly the population of Baltimore — or 1,670 per day.

Lung cancer continues to top the list of cancer deaths for men and women. It is expected to claim 127,070 lives in 2023, nearly 2.5 times more than the number two killer — colorectal cancer, according to estimates from “Cancer Statistics, 2023” in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

For men, the five cancers causing the most deaths are cancers of the lung, prostate, colon, pancreas and liver. For women, the most common cancer deaths are from lung, breast, colon, pancreas and ovarian cancers. Early detection through screenings and improved treatments helped reduce the cancer death rate, the ACS says, but the largest factor has been a decrease in cigarette smokers in the United States. Still, smoking accounts for about 8 of 10 lung cancer deaths, according to the ACS report.

Hope and fear

Since peaking in 1991, cancer death rates have fallen 33 percent, averting an estimated 3.8 million deaths, according to the report that is available in a PDF format, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023, and on the Cancer Statistics Center, an interactive website.

Among the promising findings, ACS found that from 2012 through 2019, there has been a 65 percent reduction in cervical cancer rates among younger women that correlates with the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, a group of more than 200 related viruses. Getting the HPV vaccine could protect against more than 90 percent of the cancers caused by the virus, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“The large drop in cervical cancer incidence is extremely exciting because this is the first group of women to receive the HPV vaccine, and it probably foreshadows steep reductions in other HPV-associated cancers,” Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director of surveillance research at the ACS and the lead author of the report, said in a statement.

More worrisome was that after two decades of decline, the death rate for prostate cancer increased 3 percent per year from 2014 through 2019. ACS suggests the disease is not being caught as early as it should.

“The increasing percentage of men presenting with advanced prostate cancer, which is much more difficult to treat and often incurable, is highly discouraging,” Karen E. Knudsen, chief executive officer at ACS, said in a statement. “In order to end cancer as we know it, for everyone, it is imperative for us to focus on cancers where trends for incidence and mortality are going in the wrong direction.” 

Unfortunately, racial disparities continue to affect cancer cases and outcomes, according to the report. Although Black women have a 4 percent lower incidence of breast cancer than white women, they are 40 percent more likely to die from it. Incidence of prostate cancer is 70 percent higher in Black men than white men. The ACS attributes these disparities to “longstanding inequalities in wealth that affect a person’s exposure to risk factors and their access to equitable cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.”

Health & Wellness

Target Optical

Savings on eye exams and eyewear at national retailers

See more Health & Wellness offers >

Projected cancer deaths in 2023

The top five deadly cancers differ among men and women in the United States. Here’s what the ACS projects for 2023.

For men, the estimated cancer deaths in 2023 are:

  1. Lung and bronchus — 67,160
  2. Prostate — 34,700
  3. Colon and rectum — 28,470
  4. Pancreas — 26,620
  5. Liver and intrahepatic bile duct — 19,000

For women:

  1. Lung and bronchus — 59,910
  2. Breast — 43,170
  3. Colon and rectum — 34,080
  4. Pancreas — 23,930
  5. Ovary — 13,270

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?