GOOD NEWS: “The number of Americans who died of cancer has dropped for a second straight year, marking a milestone in the war on the disease, officials said yesterday.” But don’t get cocky.

And don’t give in to the cut-and-run crowd:

President Bush lauded the news during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. “This drop was the steepest ever recorded,” he said. “Progress is being made.” . . .

Several advocates and cancer experts said, however, that the good news is tempered by cuts by the White House and Congress in funding for health research that has helped fight cancer.

“The government’s investment in the war on cancer has fueled the progress we’ve made against this disease,” said Daniel E. Smith, president of the cancer society’s Cancer Action Network. “We risk jeopardizing those gains if we retreat from the fight.”

Beating cancer is a process, not an event. No, really.

UPDATE: Reader Bill Brogdon emails:

Reading the item today about the drop in cancer deaths, I was struck by the comment “cuts by the White House and Congress in funding for health research…”

Checking the NIH funding reveals steady $ growth in every category after 1995, in which funding was reduced.

What cuts? Or is that just a mantra?

Sometimes “cuts” is used as a synonym for “reductions in the rate of growth.” Or perhaps there were cuts in some subcategories despite overall budget growth.