Can cancer be cured this century? | AspenTimes.com
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Can cancer be cured this century?

Aspen Times Staff Report

When Dr. Tim Byers released a recent report on cancer in Colorado, the story made the front pages of both Denver newspapers.

The report was not the usual gloom-and-doom story of mortality statistics, or a report on a promising new treatment being tested in mice; in fact, the report gave quantifiable evidence that the battle against cancer is being won.

Dr. Byers will speak on the topic of “Cancer in the 21st Century” at the Given Institute on Wednesday, at 6 p.m., following a 5:30 p.m. reception. The public is welcome.

Dr. Byers is a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

At the Given Institute, he will lead a discussion on recent trends in cancer prevention and treatment, and will discuss promising new “magic bullets” which may lower cancer mortality rates even further. He will also answer questions from the audience about cancer, on the recent battles over gene therapy and the effectiveness of breast cancer screening.

“The 1990s saw the beginning of a downward trend in cancer mortality,” Dr. Byers said recently, “and I see every indication that that trend will continue.”

Research shows that Colorado’s performance against goals for reductions in cancer death rates for the year 2000, which were set several years ago by the Colorado Cancer Prevention Coalition, showed a decrease in cancer death rates between 1991 and 1998 that was more favorable than predicted.

In that seven-year period, breast cancer death rates declined by 29.4 percent, prostate cancer death rates declined by 27.5 percent, colorectal cancer death rates declined by 15.7 percent, and lung cancer death rates declined by 8.8 percent.

Of particular importance have been efforts to reduce tobacco smoking; to increase screening for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers; and to improve nutrition and cancer treatment.

“If current trends continue,” said Dr. Byers, “we will cut cancer death rates in half by the year 2015.”

As for the magic bullets, Dr. Byers said, “There are a variety of very promising therapies just beyond our reach now. There is a very positive message here.

We are winning the war on cancer.”

The winter lecture series is co-sponsored by the city of Aspen. The Given Institute, a property of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has hosted numerous national and international conferences for over 25 years.

For more information, contact the Given Institute, 100 East Francis St., at 925-1057; fax 544-9758; or visit its Web site at http://www.giveninstitute.org.


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