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Cancer breakthroughs

Thanks to major advances in cancer detection, screening and treatment, this country now boasts some 11.1 million cancer survivors, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even better news: Every day, researchers around the world are working on new ways to fight this devastating disease. Here, three promising breakthroughs that may help put an end to cancer:


Currently, we have two vaccines that help prevent cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine fights liver cancer by preventing hepatitis. The vaccine Gardasil was originally meant only to protect women against cervical cancer caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). But last year, the Food and Drug Administration agreed that it can also be used to prevent vaginal and vulvar cancers, and researchers are looking into whether it’s effective for boys, too. Both vaccines target cancer-causing viruses, not the cancer itself, but researchers are hard at work developing vaccines to fight skin, ovarian, breast, lung, prostate, colorectal, kidney and many other types of cancer.

Early detection

You’ve heard it over and over again: Early detection saves lives. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, if everyone who was supposed to get screened for colon cancer did so, more than half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented. And when it comes to ovarian cancer, a disease that’s usually not detected until it’s too far along to cure, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that giving women a short symptom checklist along with an ovarian-cancer blood test can detect early disease more than 80 percent of the time. That’s good news, as when ovarian cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is more than 90 percent.

Cancer-fighting foods

We know that being obese (often the result of an unhealthy diet) raises the risk of several cancers, including colon, ovarian and cervical cancers. But more specifically, research has found that specific foods seem to lower or raise the risk. For instance, a recent study of more than 62,000 people found that people who eat large amounts of very well-done meat were 70 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who ate less charred meat. Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day also raises pancreatic cancer risk, according to a review of 14 studies including more than 800,000 people. The foods that seem to lower your risk of cancer include fruits, vegetables and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.