By Stephanie Stahl

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More Americans are dying from cancer, but it’s because of the aging population. The actual risk of cancer is falling. Stephanie Stahl shares a new treatment for the leading cancer killer.

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The new numbers from the CDC show the number of cancer deaths will rise most among black women. It also says lung cancer continues to be the biggest killer. But there are some exciting new treatments for lung cancer in our area.

It’s a little laser light that’s doing big things in the fight against lung cancer.

Dr. Patrick Ross, the chairman of surgery at Main Line Health, is a pioneer in photodynamic therapy, or PDT. Tumors are infused with light-sensitive drugs, then exposed to the laser.

“The light activates the drug, and the drug that is now in the cells directly kills the cancer cells,” Dr. Ross said.

In an X-ray, a lung on the left before treatment looks white, because there’s no air flow. With photodynamic therapy, the tumor is killed, which then allows air back into the lung.

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“We call it PDT, but my patients call it Pretty Darn Terrific,” Dr. Ross said.

PDT can be used alone or in conjunction with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Dr. Ross has started a registry with centers around the country to track the long-term outcomes of PDT.

“We’re going to be able to better target which patients benefit and which patients should not have the therapy,” Dr. Ross said.

Lankenau also has an updated da Vinci system, the surgical robot that allows better precision and is less invasive.

“With the addition of the additional robotic expertise and the addition of things like photodynamic therapy, we’re going to be able to offer patients a soup-to-nuts scenario for how to manage their lung cancer,” Dr. Ross said.

Surviving lung cancer usually depends on early detection, like with any cancer. The new numbers from the CDC released today say cancer risk is going down because it’s being found sooner, when it’s most treatable with all the new interventions.

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Stephanie Stahl