How to Be Part of the Decline in Cancer Death Rates – Lifehacker

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How to Be Part of the Decline in Cancer Death Rates – Lifehacker
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Death rates from cancer are down by 27 percent over the last 25 years, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society. Smoking is a big part of that (lung cancer deaths are way down), and treatments have gotten better over the decades.

There are many types of cancer, and the big picture is complicated. The report found that racial gaps in death rates are decreasing (yay), but socioeconomic gaps are widening (boo). There’s no way to guarantee you won’t get cancer, but the trends from the report suggest a few action items:

  • Quit smoking or don’t start. Far fewer people are dying of lung cancer now, compared to decades ago, and that’s largely explained by smoking rates.

  • Get screened for colon cancer. Fewer people are dying of colon cancer, thanks to better screening and better treatments. Screening can include colonoscopies or stool tests, and you can read more about that here.
  • Catch breast cancer early. Mammograms have their pros and cons, depending on your age and your cancer risk, but used appropriately they can detect cancer in the early stages. Self breast exams are no longer recommended, since they don’t seem to help in the long run, but you should still get any obvious changes checked out.
  • Eat well and exercise. Many cancers are associated with obesity, for reasons that aren’t entirely understood. Being a healthy weight improves your odds.
  • Get your HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screenings. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, but there’s also a disparity in who dies from it: the poorer you are, the less likely you are to have had the vaccine or to keep up on screening. This reflects injustice in our society, but if you’re looking for an action item to protect yourself, get your vaccine and/or screenings as appropriate. They’re free under nearly all insurance plans.

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