ATLANTA, Jan. 18, 2007 (Associated Press) -- The tide has turned in the nation's battle against cancer.
Cancer deaths in the United States dropped for the second year in a row, health officials reported Wednesday, confirming that the trend is real and becoming more pronounced, too.
In Washington state, the number of cancer deaths also decreased, after an increase the previous year. Cancer has been the leading cause of deaths in the state since 2004.
The decrease was cause for celebration among doctors and politicians.
"The news is exciting because, in the face of increased population in the U.S., there is an absolute decline in cancer deaths, not just a decrease in cancer rates," said Dr. Albert Einstein, executive director of the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle.
Einstein said there is no question progress is being made, and for multiple reasons, including a decrease in tobacco use and better screening methods, especially for breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, which are all being detected earlier and at more curable stages. There has also been significant improvements in therapies to help treat cancers when they are diagnosed, he said.
Despite the good news, Einstein said more people still need to be educated about early detection and better lifestyle habits to help prevent cancer. More needs to be done to help uninsured people have better access to screenings, he said.
Also, there needs to be better screening technology and techniques in place, specifically for ovarian and breast cancer, including blood markers to help detect both cancers earlier, Einstein said.
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