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New statistics offer hope in fight against cancer

Sometimes, you have to seek out the good news among the bad.

This week, amid headlines of market ups and downs, economic concerns and retailers gearing up for Black Friday, the annual “Report to the Nation” indicates that the rate of new diagnoses of cancer among men dropped 1.8 percent a year each year between 2001 and 2005. For women, the rates decreased by half a percent each year.

Those are modest numbers, but don’t be mislead. Key here is the fact that the rate of new cancer diagnoses is declining.

And that is definitely good news.

The report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also says that the cancer death rate continues to drop, average 1.8 percent a year through 2005.

And that is even better news.

Early screenings, more effective treatments and healthier lifestyles are helping gain ground against cancers such as breast, colorectal and prostate.

Education, it appears, is key. And so is research.

With cuts in funding likely at the National Cancer Institute, it’s even more critical that activities like the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life find success at a grassroots level. This annual event, which in Pike County alone has raised more than $1 million in the last seven years, generates funds used in research against the disease. The Relay even in Pike County, traditionally one of the strongest per capita in the nation, has struggled in recent years.

But we hope this news will renew the spark of support for Relay. These statistics are evidence that continued research and efforts can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.

For the millions of Americans who have won their battle against cancer, that’s the best news of all.