GOOD

Education helping to beat back cancer

A report out this week on cancer deaths is a mixed bag of sorts, but that bag contains more pro than con, beginning with the news that the U.S. cancer death rate has hit a milestone: It’s been falling for at least 25 years.

That's largely due to the fact that steps taken in recent years are working: Smoking rates are down and so are cancer deaths. Also, advances in early detection and treatment are having a positive impact, experts say.

On the flip side, however, obesity-related cancer deaths are rising, and prostate cancer deaths are no longer dropping, said Rebecca Siegel, lead author of the American Cancer Society report published Tuesday.

The prostate cancer death rate fell by half over two decades, but experts wonder whether the trend changed after a 2011 decision by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to stop recommending routine testing of men using the PSA blood test, prompted by concerns the test was leading to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. The prostate cancer death rate flattened from 2013 to 2016, so while the PSA testing may have suggested cases that didn’t actually need treatment, the report says, it may also have prevented some cancer deaths.

Of the most common types of cancer in the U.S., all the ones with increasing death rates are linked to obesity, including cancers of the thyroid, pancreas and uterus. Also, liver cancer deaths have been increasing since the 1970s, and initially most of the increase was tied to hepatitis C infections spread among people who abuse drugs.

Despite progress, cancer still remains the nation’s No. 2 killer. Getting screened remains one of the best preventatives.

 

GOOD

Rep. Brindisi already plans meeting with constituents

Newly elected Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, will hold his first official town hall meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. in American Legion Post 1645, 39 Louisa St., Binghamton. It's free and open to all members of the community.

No registration is required, Brindisi spokesperson Macey Matthews said in an email.

A news release from Brindisi's office stated that the congressman plans to hold a town hall each month, visiting every county in the district this year.

That's a far cry from the way his predecessor, Claudia Tenney, operated. Despite promises early on that she planned in-person town hall meetings in different parts of her district, Tenney didn't hold her first town hall meeting until Sept. 20, 2017 - nine months after she took office. Even then, reservations were required.

Brindisi actually held town hall meetings before he was elected. In fact, his 11-year-old son, Anthony Jr., said he loves the events where his father gets to interact with people and talk about policy.

“I like going to sit-down events, like the town halls, those are my favorite,” the young Brindisi said. “I love town halls.”

Said Dad: “As a member of Congress, my top priority is helping the people of New York’s 22nd district. That means listening to their concerns, answering their questions, and working hard to solve their problems. I will hold a free, open town hall in every county in the district because that’s what Upstate New Yorkers deserve from their representatives. I look forward to listening to my constituents and making sure they know where I stand on the issues.”

 

GOOD

Houses of worship wise to be on guard

There were some tense moments at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in South Utica last Saturday just prior to the 4 p.m. Mass, and Father Joseph Salerno, several parishioners and Utica police are to be credited for helping to diffuse what could have been a dangerous situation.

Around 3:45 p.m., a 62-year-old Utica man entered the church at 2222 Genesee St., police said, and started yelling and disrupting church property. Salerno, preparing for Mass the church sacristy, came out and tried to lead the man outside. Several parishioners, meanwhile, circled around the two as they waited for Utica Police. Particularly troubling was that the ranting man had a satchel, which Salerno feared might contain a weapon or an explosive. Fortunately, the incident ended peacefully and the troubled man was charged with one count of disrupting a religious service, a misdemeanor.

Salerno said the church plans to explore protocols in case something like this happens again.

Other churches should, too. Houses of worship are just that - open to all and by their very nature quite trusting and accommodating to strangers. Unfortunately, that leaves them open to occasional problems, and congregations should have plans in place to deal with troubling situations that might arise.