A recent report on WEBMD, a medical website, says that cancer deaths have dropped 20 percent in the past 20 years.
Among the statistics listed in the report is news that deaths from colon cancer are down 30 percent. More people are surviving that potential killer. I am one of them. I am well past the five-year period most doctors use as evidence of a successful treatment of the disease.
The article lists several things that have contributed to the decline in cancer deaths. Among them are a reduction in smoking, earlier detection and more effective treatments. In my case, I have never smoked, my cancer was at stage two, and I was treated with a new, more effective chemotherapy following my surgery. At stage two, the tumor was well developed but had not yet started to spread to other areas of my body. The surgery removed the tumor, and the chemotherapy knocked out any cancer cells that might have started to migrate.
I was very lucky that the cancer was detected as early as it was. That, and the skill of my doctors gave me an opportunity to survive. But the battle against the disease is not over. I continue to have regular screenings to detect any recurrence of the disease.
Cancer is not a thing to take lightly. It can, and often does kills. But with modern detection and treatment, it can be defeated. Of course, the best way to defeat cancer is to take measures to avoid its development in the first place. As I said, smoking and other tobacco products are credited with many cancers. Excessive weight and poor diet is another major cause, probably the main factor that led to my cancer.
I was fortunate that a skillful doctor conducted screening tests that detected my cancer while it was still treatable. I am alive today because the cancer was found and treated before it reached a dangerous level.
So, we are making progress in the battle against cancer. It can be defeated if it is found early enough. My own case shows that early detection made it possible to overcome. And regular screening and lifestyle changes are helping me stay in remission.
I urge all of you to have regular screenings. Catch any cancers early and they can be treated. If you smoke, I urge you to stop. Gradually make changes in your diet and exercise programs to maintain good health.
Cancer is still a very dangerous and costly disease. But the statistics show that the chances of surviving cancer are improving every year. You can take active steps to avoid cancer, or get treatment early if it occurs. I urge all of you to take this disease seriously and take the necessary steps that will help defeat the disease.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.