If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that “cancer sucks.” And, with COVID-19 continuing its ravage, we could all probably use some good news right about now.
According to a report released this past week in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, deaths from cancer have continued to decline year after year. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that the overall mortality from cancer decreased by 31 percent from 1991 to 2018.
Let’s break that down a bit more. The death rate dropped 2.4 percent from 2017 to 2018 and 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017. That’s pretty impressive, right?!
What is the explanation for this? The driving force for this drop is earlier detection and improvements in treatment. The most significant impact is due to the improvements in the treatment of lung cancer as well as a drop in the number of Americans who smoke. Shockingly, deaths from lung cancer out number deaths from colorectal, prostate and breast cancers combined. That’s no bueno.
Around 80 percent of lung cancer cases are caused from smoking. This is a good reminder that – how do I put it nicely? – smoking kills. Seriously, if I could give you one piece of advice that could improve your life expectancy and quality of life it would be to stop smoking. There are so many resources to help you quit, so talk to your provider and make the decision to stop now.
Here is a list of 10 things other than quitting smoking that you can do to help continue this downward trend?
- Get vaccinated for HPV.
- Get a colonoscopy at age 50 or sooner if you have a strong family history of colorectal cancer
- For women, get screened routinely for cervical cancer
- For men who have sex with men, get screened routinely for anal cancer.
- Get an annual oral exam from your dentist.
- For men 50 and over (or age 45 for black men), get screened for prostate cancer.
- For women 40 and older (or younger if you have family history), get an annual mammogram.
- Wear sunscreen daily and protect yourself from the sun.
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet and limit the amount of red meat you eat.
Jeremiah Robinson is a licensed and certified physician assistant in Atlanta, GA