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New technologies, medication cited for reasons nation’s cancer death rate falls


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Even though cancer is still one of the leading causes of death in the nation, the American Cancer Society says the cancer death rate is declining.

The cancer death rate saw a 2.2-percent drop from 2016-2017, leaving the overall cancer death rate falling by 30-percent in the last 25 years, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Dr. James Jensen is a urologic oncologist and medical director of the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital. 

“I would say, in this community, we see a declining rate of cancer because of the introduction of improved medications,” Jensen said. “We’re continuing to improve our surgical approach to cancer, so, surgeries are less invasive, less impactful upon people.” 

Jensen says more precise radiation therapies, highly-trained and specialized doctors, and new technologies are also contributing to the decline.

The American Cancer Society says long-term declines for lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer are the main factors in the drop. Jensen added those new medications being introduced are extending lives by affecting the genetic process of cancer, as well as, the immunological responses to cancer.

“There’s some thought that by using these medications that cancer can be cured so there is great hope,” Jensen said.  

Jensen says he believes we will see cancer death rates continue to decline and this is just the beginning. 

“I think we’re going to see improvement in survival, no doubt,” Jensen said. “We’re really on the frontier of the medical approach to cancer.” 

Jensen said another big reason for the decline in cancer death rates is due to fewer people smoking.

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