Springfield Doc: More future cancer deaths not bad news

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield oncology doctor says there may be a silver lining to the new report predicting cancer will overtake heart disease and become the leading cause of death in the U.S. in 16 years.

“Its a result of an aging population,” Baystate Medical Center’s Dr. James Stewart told 22News.  “Cancer is a disease of older people.”

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, new cancer cases are expected to increase 45 percent by 2030, for 1.6 million cases per year to 2.3 million cases annually.

While that sounds dire, Dr. Stewart, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at Baystate told 22News that improved lifestyles and medications have reduced high blood pressure and cholesterol and, as a result, are dying less often of heart attacks and strokes.  As people live longer they become more susceptible to developing cancer, a disease of an aging population.

“And to some extent it’s good news, because as people are dying less often of heart attacks and strokes, so cancer is becoming a more dominant cause of illness and death.  Simply put, people are living long enough to get cancer,” Stewart said.

Dr. Stewart said tobacco use is one of the leading causes of cancer.  His advice to prevent cancer and other illnesses:  don’t smoke, eat right and maintain an ideal  body weight.

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