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Cancer Survival Rates Increasing

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Cancer survival rates are improving. That's according to the National Cancer Institute which released its annual report to the nation on the status of cancer.

Friday, Roswell Park kicks off a special weekend dedicated to cancer survivors. County Executive Joel Giambra will proclaim this Sunday as Erie County Cancer Survivors Day. Sunday's event will honor 1,500 Roswell cancer patients and their families.

More knowledge about what causes cancer and how to prevent it are making a difference according to the experts. The annual study examined cancer survival rates. The death rates from all cancers are dropping at a rate of one-point-one percent per year. Roswell's senior vice president for translational research, Dr. Candace Johnson, says that decrease is "significant."

"That may sound like a small amount but in reality that is a lot of people," Johnson said. "What it does say, is we are trending upward which is very positive"

The National Cancer Institute study also finds that the incidence rates dropped by half-a-percent. Johnson says that number is also very significant. And she says changes in smoking habits could make an even bigger decrease in the number of cancer cases.

"Smoking not only impacts lung cancer, but many other tumor types are tied to smoking," Johnson said. "If we could get rid of smoking, we could decrease a lot of cancer in the country."

Johnson says cancer statistics are changing because people are becoming smarter about their lifestyles. They're eating better, taking vitamins and are going for more cancer screenings.

Johnson says a check of the local numbers finds that the Buffalo Niagara region compares with those national cancer survival rates.