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UPDATE 1-Pfizer 3rd-qtr profit beats estimates; oncology drugs shine

(Corrects that sales fell 2 percent in quarter, not 7 percent, and that oncology drug sales rose 24 pct, not 26 pct)

Oct 29 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, helped by costs cuts and growing sales of recently approved cancer medicines.

The largest U.S. drugmaker said it earned $2.59 billion, or 39 cents per share in the quarter, compared with $3.21 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 58 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected 56 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Global company sales fell 2 percent to $12.64 billion, hurt by generic competition for cholesterol fighter Lipitor and other medicines. Wall Street had expected sales of $12.7 billion.

Sales of its oncology drugs jumped 24 percent in the quarter to $407 million, in contrast to declining sales of Pfizer's array of specialty care and primary care medicines.

Its shares were little changed in premarket trading. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Maureen Bavdek)