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New statistics show decrease in cancer mortality rates, thanks to new treatments like immunotherapy

Posted at 6:52 AM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 07:53:42-05

WACO, TEXAS — The United States cancer mortality rate has hit a record decline thanks to new advancements in cancer treatments.

According to the American Cancer Association, there was a 2.2% drop in cancer related deaths from 2016 to 2017. That is the largest single year decline in cancer mortality recorded.

Those statistics show that new treatments have been more promising and giving current patients a lot more hope - like local Texan Mike Avilas who is currently battling cancer himself.

"When he comes in and says, 'I don’t have good news for you,' you just kind of go numb," Avilas said, recalling when he was diagnosed.

Millions of people are battling cancer every single day. According to, in 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.

A study revealed in April 2018 that cancer death rates have decreased:

  • 1.8% per year among men from 2006 to 2015
  • 1.4% per year among women from 2006 to 2015
  • 1.4% per year among children ages 0–19 from 2011 to 2015

For Aviles, he was diagnosed one year and six months ago. However, he says new treatments have given him more hope.

“It’s a great thing because you want to walk into a place that says hey we have things we can do.” Aviles said.

Dr. Thomas Harris, oncologist at the Texas Oncology Center in Waco, says innovation in cancer care is changing lives. He specifically talked about a new treatments called immunotherapy.

This treatment allows the medicine to boost your immune system and battle the cancer itself.

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy. Biological therapy is a type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.

Avila says it's a treatment that he is currently going through himself.

“ It also helps boost your immune system but the immunotherapy is so good, for this past year that I have been on it, I have not been sick,” he said.

Immunotherapy can be given through an RV, orally, or topically. To find a NCI-supported clinical trial near you, click here.

The steepest declines in cancer deaths occurred for melanoma skin cancer, due in part to the immunotherapy drugs Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Zelboraf (vemurafenib), which the FDA approved in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Harris says the biggest thing people can do to prevent cancer is take care of their health and get constant medical check-ups. Early detection can save lives.