Cancer death rates drop for 26th-consecutive year


SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KFTA) — When one meets Beth Wright, he or she notices how upbeat she is despite a situation some would deem crippling.

“I am a three-time cancer survivor currently in treatment for my third recurrence,” Wright said.

Wright has had three surgeries to remove breast cancer, two rounds of radiation therapy and she’s in her third round of IV chemotherapy. She got her first diagnosis in 2012.

“I’ve found more blessings than I’ve found burdens,” Wright said. “Thanks to my faith, my family and my friends, there’s been so much good that’s come from it.”

Wright was ecstatic to learn of a new American Cancer Society report that showed nationwide cancer death rates have been on the decline for the 26th-consecutive year.

“We’re finding these cancers when they’re so much smaller,” said Dr. Blake Hansen, a family physician for Northwest Health in Springdale, who said he uses these stats to encourage his patients. “We’re finding these cancers when the treatments are less invasive.”

Much of this success in battling the death rate can be attributed to a decline in lung cancer cases. That particular form is the deadliest, according to the report.

“One of the big things I think that’s helped is smoking rates are declining, which is helpful,” Hansen said.

In terms of lung cancer death rates, this is an area where Arkansas trails the rest of the pack. Statistics compiled by Centers for Disease Control & Prevention show Arkansas is tied for No. 4 among all states.

Because of advances in technology and preventative measures, Hansen said the state could start to catch up to other states in that department.

“More and more patients will keep coming in and getting screening,” Hansen said. “Not just that, but medical technologies continue to advance.”

When doctors like Hansen get excited about news like nationwide death rates dropping, Wright is encouraged to keep battling in her bouts with cancer.

“I was thrilled to see the great news, and we’ve been seeing the good news for many years now,” Wright said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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