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STATEWIDE–Advances have been made, but there is still much to be done in the fight against cancer. That was the conclusion of a report released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 

The report was released Tuesday, February 4, which is World Cancer Day. It says lung and bronchus cancer accounted for over 50{5ad3c25f5d8a6462a9daae157324f98d5b0edc4be0c0ed5ad8ca367936c1d337} of Indiana cancer-related deaths from 2012-2016. 

“It continues to be the fact that the largest cause of lung cancer is smoking. Continuing to reduce the rates of smoking is key,” says Dr. Howard Burris III, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 

Which is why he urges Hoosiers to get screened and prioritize early detection, so doctors can treat it if you get it. 

The report showed one of the biggest areas of improvement was molecular diagnostics. 

“It has accelerated as fast as cell phone technology and computers. It’s the ability to look at the cancer cell and understand what’s causing cancer to develop. So, looking at these mutations, sometimes there are too many copies of a gene or sometimes the gene is missing or altered. When we know that’s the cause of the patient’s cancer, we can better select what targeted treatment to use against that cancer,” Burris said. 

He says sometime’s it’s a specific pill or a type of immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer.

Even though treatments have advanced and people are living longer, Burris says age is still a risk factor for cancer. 

“We continue to advocate for patients with Medicaid. That’s about 15 to 20{5ad3c25f5d8a6462a9daae157324f98d5b0edc4be0c0ed5ad8ca367936c1d337} of the U.S. population. Medicaid patients are the most disadvantaged at making sure they 1.) have access to care and 2.) access to clinical trials. Those things are going to be key,” Burris said. 

In Indiana, 18{5ad3c25f5d8a6462a9daae157324f98d5b0edc4be0c0ed5ad8ca367936c1d337} of the population is covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). About 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020. 

What are the best ways to avoid getting cancer? 

Prevention is one thing. 

“What we can do with regard to moderate exercise, try to have weight control, don’t smoke. All of those things are preventive steps to take,” Burris said. 

The next key is early detection. 

“Mammography, colonoscopy, and taking advantage of low-dose CT scans if you’re in a risk group for lung cancer from a smoking history,” Burris said. 

You can learn more at Burris says that is the next best thing after talking to your doctor. 

(PHOTO: Pogonic/Thinkstock)