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Cancer Treatment and Early Detection Saving Lives?

Cancer Treatment and Early Detection Saving Lives?

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First Posted: Jan 21, 2013 11:57 AM EST
On Thursday, new recommendations for cervical cancer screenings were released on the human papillomavirus (HPV), which will incorporate a pap smear, along with one approved HPV test to be used for cancer screening. For the past 80 years, a pap smear alone was used to test for cervical cancer.
(Photo : Reuters)

There's some good news out there about the cancer death rate: it's dropping. New statistics from the American Cancer Society show that the death rate for cancer in the U.S. has dropped by at least one-fifth over the past 20 years.

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Due to early detection and cancer treatments, death rates continue to fall for colon, breast, and prostate cancers. In addition, lung cancer, the leading cancer killer, is also on the decline due to the drop in the number of smokers.

According to the study, overall cancer death rates fell by 24 percent in men and 16 percent in women between the years 1991 and 2009. These drops translate to 1.2 million lives spared between those years.

While this study shows that there's been a major leap in cancer treatment and prevention, there is still cause to be worried.  Breast, lung, and colon cancers are still some of the most prevalent in the U.S. The organization estimates that nearly 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2013. In addition, nearly 600,000 people will die from the disease this year. The report showed that melanoma is actually on the rise along with cancers of the liver, thyroid, and pancreas. Among women, uterine cancer is also increasing.

Scientists still stress the importance of preventative measures such as not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, and drinking fewer alcoholic beverages. That said, this report does show that while there is still work to be done, the future certainly looks brighter.

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