Cancer researchers reported a good-news milestone today: Both the number of new cases and the number of cancer deaths are declining for the first time, USA Today reports. Scientists gave most of the credit to a drop in the number of smokers. “By preventing smoking, you can give someone 10 or 15 years,” one of the study’s authors said. Overall death rates are down 1.8% and new cases by .08%.
The statistics about new cases cheered researchers, who had seen almost the exact opposite trend between 1995 and 1999. Still, doctors think death rates and incidence can be much lower. “We discover breakthroughs, but we don't deliver them to everyone," an American Cancer Society official said. “We need to make sure all Americans have timely access to prevention, so the entire population can benefit.”