EDITORIAL: We’re winning cancer’s fight

The job of conquering cancer is far from over, but to accomplish it will require the joint efforts of everyone

Over the last three issues the Victoria News has profiled families and health-care workers as part of our series Cancer and Families.

The families we talked to have seen success in fighting this terrible disease.

Childhood cancer is relatively uncommon. However, it remains the most common disease-related cause of death – more than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined. It is second only to injury-related deaths among Canadian children.

But amazing progress has been made in treating childhood cancers, although their causes remain a mystery.

Far more children are alive now than in 1950’s and fewer than half the number who died of cancer in a given year will be killed by cancer in 2014.

Just since the mid 1970’s, survival rates for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer and one that in the 1950’s was always fatal, have increased to 85 per cent from 53 percent. Cure rates for some less common childhood cancers approach 100 per cent.

Today, we know that cancer is not one disease, but at least 100 different diseases, perhaps even thousands of diseases, each unique to an individual.

And that’s where the riddle remains.

More research – and yes, money – is needed to defeat the scourge of cancer. And we all need to be more aware of the signs of cancer in order to beat it.

More than half a century ago the Canadian Cancer Society, among others, said it believed early curable cancer often betrays itself by one of seven danger signals. They listed those as “a sore that does not heal, a lump or thickening, unusual bleeding or discharge, a change in a wart or mole, persistent indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, persistent hoarseness or cough, a change in normal bowel habits.”

The job of conquering cancer is far from over, but to accomplish it will require the joint efforts of researchers, clinicians and especially everyone of you.