Deaths dropped by 2.2% between 2016 to 2017.
Baltimore, Md (KM) The American Cancer Society is reporting a 2.2% drop in cancer deaths between 2016-2017, which is the most recent data available. The Society says cancer deaths usually decline by 1.5% annually, but this is the largest ever one-year decrease in national cancer statistics which go back to 1930.
Dr. Rob Brookland, the Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, says the biggest decline is reported in lung cancer due to a decrease in the number of people who smoke. “And that’s why we’re seeing such a big drop is because we have seen this significant reduction in the use of tobacco,” he says.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer for men and women to get, especially if they’re smokers.
The Society also reports declines in death rates from other cancers. “We’re seeing it in prostate cancer, which is the mostly likely cancer for a man to get. We’re seeing it in breast cancer, which is the mostly likely cancer for a woman to get. And finally, we’re seeing it in colorectal cancer, which is the second most common cancer for non-smoking men and women to get. So we’re seeing it in all the common cancers. We’re seeing a drop,” says Dr. Brookland.
But he says more needs to be done to further bring down the cancer death rate in the country, and one includes making sure teenagers don’t start smoking. “We still see kids starting to smoke,” Dr. Brookland says. “We’ve got to continue to make our efforts in that regard. Not allowing kids to smoke until age 21 would be great way of preventing that. Increasing taxes on cigarettes is another effective way. So we’ve got to continue to work on smoking cessation.”
Dr. Brookland says we all need to improve our diets and get more exercise. “There’s a clear correlation between obesity and cancer, and we know that with increasing fitness, we’ll see less cancer,” he says.
That healthy diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, limiting grains to about four servings a day, and limiting refined sugars and sweets as much as possible says Dr. Brookland. He also some good sources of protein are fish and poultry, but consumption of red meat should be limited.
Other recommendations to prevent cancer include limiting your time out in the sun so you don’t catch melanoma; women getting mammograms to detect breast cancer; men getting a rectal exam to detect any prostate cancer; and both men and women getting a colonoscopy to detect any colorectal cancer.
In addition to being Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Dr. Brookland is also a past-president of the American Cancer Society, and currently works as a volunteer for the Society. .
By Kevin McManus