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American Cancer Society reports a decline in cancer deaths

The American Cancer Society has good news for people in Oklahoma and across the United States: Cancer death rates have fallen by 25 percent since 1991. The ACS says that less smoking and improved screenings for cancer have helped and that to continue on this track, continued research and encouragement of healthy behaviors is necessary.

The rates of new cancer diagnoses for men and women decreased by about 1.5 percent each year in the past decade, with the decrease in men being slightly higher each year. In addition, fewer men are dying from prostate cancer, which the ACS attributes largely to the fact that the PSA blood test is not recommended anymore. The PSA test was resulting in false positives but not always detecting cancer in men who had it.

Decreases in smoking rates have led to fewer cases of lung cancer, while more colonoscopies have led to early detection and treatment of colon cancer. But the ACS noted that cancer is more prevalent and deadly in certain ethnic and racial groups. African Americans had a 15 percent higher cancer death rate than whites in 2014. Children are also dying of cancer at a rate that makes the disease the second-leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14, right after accidents.

The ACS predicts that in 2017 about half of all cancers diagnosed will be lung, colorectal and prostate cancer for men and breast, colorectal and lung cancer for women. According to the organization, breast cancer will account for about 30 percent of new cancer diagnoses in women.

The change in the recommendation of routine PSA blood testing for men came from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2012. The test was considered unreliable and the many false positives it was producing were posing a risk to men who actually didn't have prostate cancer. A false positive could result in drugs or treatments that are unnecessary and potentially dangerous to a patient. A false diagnosis or misdiagnosis could merit charges of medical malpractice being filed. An attorney specializing in such cases may be able to assist someone who received a false diagnosis create accountability for his or her injuries.

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