Cancer Death Rates Down 20%

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Cindy Slabicki underwent a lumpectomy and radiation after doctors discovered cancer in her breast last fall. The 60-year old was concerned but took it in stride.

"I know so many women who have had breast cancer, and fortunately the ones I do know came out of it okay, so I think I kind of had that in my mind."

A new report from the American Cancer Society finds the overall death rate from cancer has gone down 20 percent from its peak in 1991. The drop is even greater for the big four -- breast, lung, colorectum and prostate cancer.

"Fewer Americans are smoking," said Dr. Otis Brawley. "After that it's improvements in early detection of cancer and improvements in treatments of cancer."

The report still expects more than a million new cancer cases this year and more than half a million cancer deaths. And death rates are still rising for some cancers, including melanoma.

46-year-old Lisa Moffitt had a malignant mole removed from her back nearly three years ago.
Like many melanoma patients she didn't protect her skin from the sun.

"Every year I would get a serious sunburn and then I would tan and I thought that was nice."

Her doctor says early detection is key.

"If you see a spot that's new, a spot that's changing, getting bigger, getting darker, it needs to be addressed," said Dr. Sharon Scherl.

Moffitt now wears sunscreen and hopes her cancer doesn't come back.

Some of the other cancers still increasing are cancers of the liver, thyroid, and pancreas. The American Cancer Society says if the trends from 1991 continued, 1.2 million more Americans would have died from cancer.

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