By Robin Clutters

(CBS4) – There is some very promising news in the fight against cancer. According to a new report, death rates have dropped for some of the most common cancers. Researchers tracked cancer deaths from 2014 and 2018 and found that among men, death rates dropped for 11 of the 19 most common cancers. For women, rates dropped for 10 of the 20 most prevalent cancers.

Dr. Ryan Weight, a medical oncologist with the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Swedish Medical Center, shared his thoughts on the study on CBSN Denver.

“This is a celebration for the medical community and our fellow colleagues in the research community. I think there are multiple factors that contribute to this change and the drop in death rates that we’ve seen in recent years.”

The study found the biggest drop in deaths was in melanoma, which is one of the most common cancers in Colorado. From 2009 to 2014, melanoma deaths declined by almost 3.1% per year.

“There has been an increase in awareness of the importance of dermatologic surveillance for detecting melanoma,” says Dr. Weight. “We have seen a dramatic improvement in patients with more advanced and more difficult-to-treat melanoma thanks to new targeted therapies.”

Lung cancer is another area that saw a dramatic improvement. Dr. Weight says it too has seen advancements in treatments as well as more awareness of the risk factors.

“The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has actually recommended that those who have a smoking history undergo low dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer, and we think this has contributed to a decrease in the death rate by catching these cancers earlier.”

While the study focused on many of the successes in the medical community, it also highlighted health care disparities. Researchers found overall cancer death rates were higher among Black people than white individuals, despite the fact cancer rates were lower among Black people.

“I think this highlights that we need to continue to advance our efforts to dismantle the existing healthcare disparities that we see in our communities.”

Robin Clutters