Local doctor explains the reason behind reduced cancer-related deaths last year

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – A study from the American Cancer Society found that cancer-related deaths have been on the decline over the past decade with a dramatic decline in the past couple of years. Plateau Health’s Dr. Paul Conley says the decline in cancer deaths is likely due to the better treatments available to combat cancer and the increased amounts of cancer screening.

“Colon cancer is the number two cancer killer in the United States, but we’ve seen a thirty percent reduction in colon cancer death in the last ten years,” said Dr. Paul Conley with Plateau Health. “That thirty percent reduction, that decline, has been attributed to early screening. By getting people in sooner we can detect precancerous growths, like polyps, and remove those.”

Both the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventative Taskforce recommend getting screened for colon cancer at age forty-five. Early screening for other cancers is just as important to get early detection and treatment. Talking with your primary care provider during routine physicals can help them determine when it is time to get you screened and what measures you can take to prevent cancer and other diseases.

“When you see your primary care provider that’s one thing we really want to focus on is preventative health and health maintenance,” Dr. Conley said. “In medicine many times we are treating a disease, but part of what we do is actually try to prevent the disease from occurring.”

Preventative health becomes especially important during pandemics because our guards are down to other diseases. Dr. Conley says it’s important to continue getting screened and not turn a blind eye to other conditions.

“We can’t totally just turn a blind eye to other health conditions,” said Dr. Conley. “Whether that be heart disease, lung disease, folks with diabetes, and cancer screening. We definitely think it’s very very important that we continue to provide these screening tests.”

Dr. Conley also says that health care providers are taking every necessary measure to ensure the safety of their patients from COVID-19 while providing high level care.