We have some new numbers in the fight against cancer: the american cancer society is out with its annual report, and there's some very good news to pass along, along with a warning about where the next big risk could come from.
Here's a report from NBC's chief science correspondent Robert Bazell.
the recent report out illustrates huge strides in the fight against cancer, which kills 1 in 4 Americans.
the death rate ... down - more than 20 percent in the last two decades
is attributed to improved survival rates for the biggest killers --lung and colon cancer for both men and women, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer.
Dr. Therese Beavers, MD Anderson: "The public should be ecstatic that we are seeing these kind of reductions but they need to realize that the battle hasn't been won."
Experts emphasize the decline in death rate is not due to the expensive new drugs we often hear about. Instead, they point to people smoking less and early detection--especially for breast and colon cancer.
Still, this year an estimated 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer -- and more than 580,000 will die from it.
According to the report, the death rate for melanoma - often caused by sun exposure - is rising. And there is major new concern about obesity which affects many cancers including liver, breast and colorectal cancer.
d. Otis Brawley, American Cancer Society: "In the next ten or fifteen years it will be possible that the obesity epidemic will become the leading cause of cancer surpassing tobacco."
And that could impact the gains we are seeing now.
Robert Bazell, NBC News, New York.