Cancer death rates down - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Cancer death rates down

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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 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, colorectal 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 Brawley of the 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 Englewood Hospital.

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

Some of the cancers still on the rise are 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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