• Mayo Clinic Minute: Winning the war on cancer

Fewer people are dying of cancer in the U.S. The number of cancer deaths has dropped continuously over a 25-year period, according to a recent study from the American Cancer Society. It's a 27 percent decline. And, according to one Mayo Clinic cancer expert, there are several contributing factors.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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Health officials say it's outstanding news that the rate of cancer and cancer deaths in the U.S. is on a steady decline.

"We are winning the war, but we're not quite ready to declare a victory just yet," says Dr. Jan Buckner, a Mayo Clinic medical oncologist.

Dr. Buckner says there are two primary reasons for the reduced cancer rate.

"One is increased screening and prevention of cancer," he says. "And the other is continually better treatments after a patient is diagnosed."

He says it's no coincidence it's happening as the number of Americans who smoke and use tobacco continues to drop. But there's still more work to be done.

"If we could also work on the obesity epidemic, that would help reduce the rates even further," says Dr. Buckner.

And he's optimistically looking to the future of cancer care.

"I think we will be able to detect cancers earlier — get them when they're more curable," says Dr. Buckner. "I am also optimistic that, even after a cancer diagnosis, we will be able to continue to increase the cure rate or control rate for many, many years."

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