Historic drop of cancer death rates

Healthbeat

Geisinger oncologist discusses major strides

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There is some very encouraging news concerning a very devastating disease.

Cancer deaths are declining at a historic rate. A NEPA center is playing a role in this historical drop. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller visited the center in Luzerne County on Tuesday to discuss progress being made.

“You don’t affect the whole body. You’re just targeting that tumor,” said Geisinger Oncologist Srilatha Hosur, MD. Targeted therapy in the form of a pill which she referenced is considered one of the keys behind a major announcement by the American Cancer Society.

“It’s fantastic news,” said Dr. Hosur.

Cancer deaths in the U.S. dropped 29 percent from 1991 to 2017. And between 2016 and 2017, the rate fell 2.2 percent which is the largest-ever reported single-year drop in cancer deaths.

Driving this historic decline? Fewer deaths from lung cancer which accounts for the most cancer-related deaths each year.

Dr. Hosur said, “This drop has been because of all the advances we have in treatments. Also, we’re also catching them early.”

An American Lung Association campaign called “Saved By The Scan” claims that 48,000 American lives could be saved if former moderate to heavy smokers considered most at risk for lung cancer had a low dose CT scan. Dr. Hosur, who treats patients at Geisinger’s Henry Cancer Center, is seeing the payoff from those scans.

Then there are those treatment advances. Targeted therapy pinpoints cancerous cellular mutations. Immunotherapy tweaks the body’s immune system to better fight cancer while limiting side effects. The promising news isn’t limited to lung cancer.

Sharp declines are also noted for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer. With more research and more early detection, Dr. Hosur believes even greater strides can be made.

“We have a lot to look forward to,” Dr. Hosur said.

Dr. Hosur is also excited by clinical trials held at Geisinger’s Henry Cancer Center which look at therapy combinations as well as vaccines.

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