Local hospital reacts to report of declining cancer rates

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Prostate cancer is on the rise, but a new report from the American Cancer Society shows the death rates of many cancers are on the decline.

The report says it’s been on a consistent decline during the past 25 years.

The Oncology Department Chair at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Dr. Scott Okuno, says the drop can be attributed to lower smoking rates and advances in early detection and treatment.

“In addition, our treatments for patients with cancer definitely improved as well," said Okuno.

On the other hand, the report shows obesity-related cancer deaths are rising.

Okuno says inactivity and obesity increase the risk of some of the more preventable diseases such as colon cancer and breast cancer.

The report also shows there's been a decline in the historic racial gap in cancer death rates.

“There is an increased risk among mortality in African American patients diagnosed with cancer compared to non-African American,” said Okuno.

He says those in lower socioeconomic levels have a higher risk of cancer as well. Okuno says part of that might be because of lack of screening and lack of access to medical care.

Although we are seeing a decline, the report shows cancer remains the nation's number 2 killer.

The society predicts there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases, and more than 600,000 cancer deaths, in the U.S. this year.