The American Cancer Society’s annual statistics report has generated a lot of discussion, as medical researchers and physicians try to figure out whether the news is good or bad.

On the good side, the report, based on nationwide mortality data from 2005, finds that U.S. cancer death rates continue to decline. Among men, deaths attributed to cancer have decreased 18.4 percent since the early 1990s; for women, the decrease over the same period is 10.5 percent.

On the bad side, the report finds an uptick in the number of cancer deaths in 2005 as compared to historic declines in both 2003 and 2004. There were 559,312 cancer deaths reported in 2005, an increase of more than 5,000 from 2004 (553,888 deaths).

Researchers suggest the rise in cancer mortality may be the result of America’s growing population. But they can’t be sure until more data are collected and studied. It should be noted that prescreening initiatives for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers continue to increase, aiding early detection efforts that reduce mortality rates.

Remarkable progress has been made in the fight against cancer, especially on the local level. Much, however, remains to be done, and research funding is always an issue. A donation to the local treatment center of your choice would certainly help in the fight, as would a contribution to the American Cancer Society.