OUR OPINION: Time is short for annual race for the cancer cure

Little more than two weeks remains before the Komen Race for the Cure in Tupelo, one of many links in what has become the largest fundraising race in the world, every participant focused on raising funds to find a preventative and a cure for breast cancer.

The Oct. 26 event at 8 a.m. begins and concludes in Fairpark downtown.

The Komen Foundation has given new identity to the color pink, with the hue identifying thousands of individuals, businesses, nonprofits and institutions as participants in the effort to “join the promise” of the Komen organization: “Imagine life without breast cancer.”

Joining as a single participant or registering as a team is simple. Visit www.komennorthms.org and click on the “Register Today” icon for instructions.

Breast cancer prevention and cure remains one of the top priorities in American health care because if affects so many women and their families.

The National Cancer Institutes reported earlier this year that an estimated 232,340 new female cases and, perhaps surprisingly, 2,240 male cases will be diagnosed in 2013. Of the new cases reported, NCI estimates that 39,620 will die, including 410 men.

Fortunately, decades of intense research and clinical trials have made inroads. NCI has reported that while overall cancer deaths continue to decline, death rates continued to increase during the latest time period (2000 through 2009) for melanoma of the skin (among men only) and for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and uterus. A wealth of additional information about breast and other cancers is available by going to http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/newsfromnci/2013/ReportNation, which has virtually comprehensive information for laymen.

In addition, NCI offers at no charge a widely praised booklet, “What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer.” It is especially written for women already diagnosed for women with breast cancer.

The book contains suggested questions to ask physicians, sensible information for any woman who does not know fully what to ask.

Despite encouraging news, the Mississippi State Medical Association has offered this cautionary statement:

“Although the incidence and death rate from breast cancer are trending downward in the United States, the death rate in Mississippi, especially in African Americans, is still one of the highest. Physicians and other health care professionals should work closely with their patients to help modify life styles, encourage prevention strategies, and vigorously follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage is our best hope.”