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Report Sees Advances in War Against Cancer

Millions more survive today, and experts say science is paying off

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However, up to 50 percent of cancer deaths are related to preventable causes, including smoking, being obese or overweight, being sedentary and eating a poor diet, the report noted. "The average person would be surprised by how much cancer is preventable, " Sawyers said.

While smoking's link to cancer is well known, he said that many people remain unaware of the obesity-cancer connection. Obesity increases the risk for many cancers, such as esophageal, colorectal, endometrial, kidney and pancreatic cancers, and breast cancers in women past menopause.

Continued progress is jeopardized by the slashing of research funds, the report said. Earlier this year, the U.S. National Institutes of Health's budget was cut by $1.6 billion -- or more than 5 percent.

While the report covers a lot of ground, City of Hope's Stein said the authors didn't emphasize an important fact: "That people with cancer live better."

"A lot of times, even those with advanced cancer on therapy are able to engage in everyday activities," Stein said. "A lot of that is [due to] the research that we did a long time ago that has been paying off for a long time."

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