Better cancer care can prevent deaths without new treatments, experts say

Cancer experts say more than one in five cancer deaths can be eliminated in the U.S. even if researchers don't develop new tests or treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports.

If every American took full advantage of the nation's best medical care, cancer mortality rates would fall by 22 percent, researchers from the American Cancer Society report, meaning at least 134,000 lives could be saved in 2018 alone.

The cancer experts believe this to be true because they can already see better outcomes happening for Americans with college degrees, according to the news report. To truly improve cancer mortality rates, the study authors say, the rest of the country needs to have the same access to high quality preventive care, screening and treatments.

The ACA, for example, already has helped to improve Americans' access to care in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs, the authors report.

As a result of the program expansion, cases of breast, lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancer in these states can be diagnosed earlier, a previous study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found.

The American Cancer Society epidemiologists found 59 percent of lung and bronchus cancers could be avoided across the U.S. if everyone got the same care as people who went to college. Research shows people with less education face a greater risk of dying of cancer, the authors report. That change could prevent 54,090 deaths annually.

"There are vast opportunities to reduce the cancer burden today, in the absence of new technologies or treatment, by expanding delivery of currently established evidence-based care to all Americans," the authors concluded.

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