WVU Cancer Specialists Encouraged by Results
Cancer deaths nationwide down for second year

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – “We are winning the war on cancer,” West Virginia University cancer researcher Dan Flynn, Ph.D., said Wednesday.

Dr. Flynn, deputy director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, was reacting to an announcement from the American Cancer Society that the number of cancer deaths in the U.S. has fallen for a second consecutive year – after decades of increases.

“The turnaround is striking,” he said. “Despite the fact the population is growing, the number of lives lost to cancer is declining.

West Virginians are both contributing to the national trend and benefiting from it. Data released by the National Cancer Institute in 2006 showed that West Virginia’s cancer death rate, while still above national averages, was declining at a faster rate than in the U.S. as a whole.

Today’s figures from the American Cancer Society project that 10,490 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in West Virginia in 2007, and that 4,610 state residents will die from the disease this year.

At WVU and elsewhere across the country, researchers and physicians are refining medical and surgical treatments for cancer.

“We are able to diagnose cancer earlier, and provide more effective treatments,” said  Jame Abraham, M.D., a WVU oncologist and medical director of the cancer center clinic. “There is real hope today for patients who just a few years ago were considered incurable. "

Dr. Abraham said patients and families deserve much of the credit for the decline in cancer deaths. “People who quit smoking are saving lives. People who are regularly screened for cancer are saving lives. And people who teach their children to stay away from tobacco, eat healthy foods and live an active lifestyle are saving lives.”

“We are still losing far too many people to cancer,” Flynn said. “We know the fight is not over – that’s why we’re doubling the space in our cancer clinic and adding more research labs. But it is a very good day when we can say that we are seeing fewer deaths each year.”

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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