Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner
2004 National Healthcare Quality Report

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Chapter 2. Effectiveness: Cancer

Importancei and Measures

Prevalence and Incidence

  • The number of new cancer cases is projected to reach over 1.4 million in 2004.
  • Four cancers—lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate—account for over half of the new cases.

Morbidity and Mortality

  • Cancer is the Nation's second leading cause of death, after heart disease.
  • The number of cancer deaths is expected to top 560,000, or over 1,500 per day, in 2004.


  • Cancer is among the most expensive diseases. Total expenses are projected to reach $189.5 billion in 2003, including over $64.2 billion in total direct health care expenses.


Evidence-based consensus on what comprises good quality care and how to measure it currently exists for only a few cancers and a few aspects of care, including screening and the incidence of advanced stage detection for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. Mortality rates are also an accepted distal measure of outcome. Because colorectal cancers have the highest mortality and advanced stage detection rate and the lowest screening rate, measures highlighted in this section are:

  • Trends in colorectal cancer mortality
  • Advanced stage detection rate
  • Screening for colorectal cancer

iStatistics are from the American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures; 2003 (see: Disclaimer.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care