American Cancer Society: Death rates have biggest drop in single year

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There is some encouraging news in the fight against cancer – death rates have had their biggest drop in a single year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Joann Zagursky was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in 2015.

"They discovered that tumor on my right lung...and I said to my daughter, 'I'm going to die,'" says Zagursky.

But nearly five years later, Zagursky says that she is cancer-free. She is part of an encouraging trend of cancer survivors. The American Cancer Society says that the death rate from cancer declined by 2.2% in the 2016-2017 study year.

“None of us feel like it’s a home run and we can hang up our coats and be done. But we all feel enormous gratitude that we’re seeing the needle move in the right direction,” says oncologist Janice Mehnert of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Mehnert and colleague Dr. Salma Jabbour, who treats lung patients, say that they've been encouraged by better patient outcomes.

“Declines in smoking, improved treatments, improved detection rates with lung cancer and lung cancer screening,” Jabbour says.

Zagursky, who is 84 years old, says she feels great.

“The doctor said, ‘Give me your strength, let me see how strong you are.’ Now, I had chemo. And I pushed him, he almost fell over, because I pushed him so strong because he was pushing me,” she says.

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