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Report: Cancer Death Rate Down Since ’91 Peak

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NEW YORK (WCCO) – There’s some good news in the battle against cancer.

New American Cancer Society numbers show a drop in the number of people dying from cancer over the last few decades.

But some cancers are still on the rise.

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 OK. So I think I kind of had that in my mind,” she said.

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. After that it’s improvements in early detection of cancer and improvements in treatments of cancer,” said Dr. Otis W. Brawley of American Cancer Society.

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.

Lisa Moffitt, 46, 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,” she said.

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, the chief of dermatology at Engelwood Hospital.

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

The American Cancer Society says if the trends from 1991 had continued, 1. 2 million more Americans would have died from cancer.

Some other cancer types are still increasing, including liver, thyroid and pancreas.

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