- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - With survival rates for prostate, skin and breast cancer now topping 90 percent, New York health advocates lobbied Wednesday to restore state funding against far deadlier lung cancer and tobacco smoke carcinogens.

The national five-year survival rate for lung cancer has risen only from 12 percent to 17 percent over nearly three decades, according to the American Cancer Society. That compares with survival increases from 75 to 90 percent for breast cancer, 68 to 100 percent for prostate cancer and from 82 to 93 percent for melanoma, the most serious of three common skin cancers.

The society estimated 107,200 new cases of various cancers will be diagnosed this year in New York, about the same as last year, and about 1.67 million cases nationally. Screening, earlier detection and better treatments have cut the death rates. About 34,000 New Yorkers die annually from the disease.

“The mortality rates for cancer over the last 20 to 25 years have dropped 20 percent,” said Michael Burgess of the society’s Cancer Action Network. There are more than 900,000 cancer survivors living in New York now, he said. “We need to keep it up.”

Dr. Alvaro Carrascal, the society’s senior vice president of cancer control, said the adult smoking rate in New York, based on revised federal measurements, is 18 percent.

“Tobacco is the single leading cause of cancer death in New York,” Carrascal said. “Every year, over 32,000 tobacco-related cancers are diagnosed in New York. This is one third of all the cancers diagnosed in the state in a given year.”

Smoking rates among poorer New Yorkers have not changed since 2000, while the rate among those with mental illness remains at 35 percent, Carrascal said. He urged more state funding for programs to reach and treat their addiction.

The advocates said lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases cost statewide health care about $8 billion annually, including $2.7 billion from the state share of Medicaid.

They brought patients, survivors and caregivers to Albany on Wednesday to lobby for increased funding in New York’s tobacco control program, saying it’s been cut from $85 million in 2008 to about $40 million. While the state collects about $2 billion in tax revenues from tobacco sales, they said only 2 percent is spent on programs to limiting smoking and that should be raised to 10 percent.

They urged increased funding for the State Cancer Services Program, saying it’s been cut by about $4 million to $25 million. It funds services like mammograms for the uninsured.

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