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The good news about cancer

The other good news from the less-cancer story is more important. Death rates from cancer continue to decline, have been declining for 15 years.

no smoking signAmericans are starting to do the easy things that prevent cancer.

Not smoking. Regular check-ups. Simple procedures to check for cancer.

That's why, for the first time, cancer rates are headed down. Men especially have kicked the smoking habit. We're not dieing of lung cancer nearly so much.

Instead we're going to the funerals of women friends who have died of it.

This is being overshadowed by a small study out of Norway indicating some cancers may go away by themselves.

I don't doubt the study. Miracles occur. But harping on a few cases and not getting treatment is like expecting to win the lottery. Some people do win -- my dad won once -- but it's not something you should expect.

The other good news from the less-cancer story is more important. Death rates from cancer continue to decline, have been declining for 15 years.

This again is partly due to cuts in lung cancer rates. Lung cancer is often deadly. It's also due to earlier detection, especially helpful with breast cancer (if you're not expecting spontaneous remission).

Also some of the fastest-growing cancers in terms of incidence, like prostate cancer, are also slow moving and highly curable if detected quickly. My close friend Tommy Bass is a prostate cancer survivor.

That last word, survivor, is also accelerating the trend. It's amazing how many people remain ashamed of cancer, how many don't want others to know they're sick. This is not a mercy. We want to know.

When you let people know you will doubtless get support to help you through it. And when you do go into remission you enter the ledger of all those who know you as another survivor.

Which can save their lives, too.