WHY are the death rates dropping? Unfortunately there are some rumor-mongers who love to say the numbers are dropping due to poor reporting. However, as a cancer patient (multiple times) over the past 40 years, I strongly believe in the validity of the numbers we see. There have been fewer cases of cancer in some types of cancer. There has been earlier detection in many types of cancer, especially breast cancer. Better diagnostic tools and improved treatments are also now available. These and a few other “reasons” can account for the lower death rates.
GOOD NEWS: As large cancer organizations continue to collect millions of dollars for research and the USA federal government continues to pay in millions of dollars, more progress is being seen on the research field. However, while we are getting better at diagnosing cancer AND we are getting better at treating cancer, the population is also learning to live healthier and to put more effort into prevention!
PREVENTION: So how does one “prevent” cancer? Not all causes of cancers are known and thus cannot be prevented. However, over the past 50 years or more, scientists have identified many causes for different types of cancer.
For example, factors indicate that too much exposure to the UV rays from the sun, the radiation from tanning beds and other causes have been identified and linked to skin cancer. THUS, industry developed sunscreens to block those harmful rays as we enjoy time in the sun. The American Cancer Society and various medical groups launched educational programs to encourage people to take good care of their skin by avoiding over exposure to these harmful rays (avoiding the ‘heat’ of the day, using shade, wearing wide-brimmed hats are a few examples)… resulting in fewer cases of skin cancer.
Another example, perhaps the best known one, was the announcement that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and other medical problems. As more and more people quit smoking (and some never start smoking), the results are fewer cases of lung cancer linked to smoking. Yes, there are still smokers. Yes, there are still other causes of lung cancer, but with this “cause” identified, progress is being seen and felt within the cancer community.
Eating healthier foods, the reduced eating of red meats after a possible link to colon cancer was identified, efforts to reduce obesity, and many other projects have been developed to continue to improve the chances of (1) Not getting cancer; (2) earlier detection due to better diagnostic tools; and (3) improved treatments, or the need for shorter treatments due to early detection are all leading to more survivors.
Yes, we still have a long way to go. People need to heed the warnings we now have regarding smoking, skin cancers, and other triggers for cancer development.
May we soon see the end of some types of cancer.
May we enjoy the fact that some cancers are now treatable with a 90+ percent survival rating.
May we all strive to do as much as we possibly can to live healthy and stay healthy.