Cancer Breakthroughs

Kimberly Arellano, Student Life Editor

On January 12, 2023, the American Cancer Society released a report claiming that over the past three decades the cancer death rate in the United States consistently declined. The United States cancer death rate dropped by 33% since 1991 (CNN).

The cancer death rate decreased partly because of advances in treatment, early detection, and a drop in the number of smokers. Technological advancements in the field made it possible for people to live longer and healthier. Technological advancement also caused the availability of more effective treatment options. According to the National Cancer Institute, individuals who stopped smoking for 10 years have less risk of getting lung cancer by 30% to 50% compared to people who keep smoking. Early detection helps to find the lesion that can lead to removing or treating it before it becomes cancerous (CDC).

The American Cancer Society noted that Human Papillomavirus vaccinations are shown to reduce cancer deaths. The infection caused by HPV can cause cervical cancer and other cancer types, and because of the vaccine, the number of new cases of cervical cancer decreased. Another way to diagnose cancer is a liquid biopsy. Liquid biopsy is a technology to help diagnose disease through a blood sample. Screening tests helped lower the US cervical cancer death rate by more than 50% in the last thirty years (Cancer Services Program).

Although the cancer death rates in the US declined, the rising number of diagnosed cases of breast, uterine, and prostate cancer still remains concerning. Since the mid-2000s, breast cancer in women increased by 0.5%. Prostate cancer cases rose by 3% per year from 2014 through 2019. Thyroid cancer, lymphoma, and melanoma cancer cases are decreasing. Leukemia death rates are decreasing for both adolescents and young adults. From 2019 through 2020, the American Cancer Society estimated that the cancer death rate declined by 1.5%.

Sierra Vista’s ninth-grade biology teacher, Melissa Ferrer, fought with breast cancer. As quoted in The Fight against Breast Cancer, Ferrer says, “It absolutely changed my life and in fact, for the better. My faith is stronger and my family is closer than ever. I appreciate each day that I am given and find it to be a blessing.” Ferrer received a diagnosis in May 2021 and went through her last chemotherapy treatment on October 23, 2021.