Preventing Cancer

January 16, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 2
Are too few resources devoted to prevention?
By Marcia Clemmitt


a woman smoking (Getty Images/Mike Simons)
Smoking is the nation's single, greatest cause of cancer. Public health experts say cancer will kill around half of current smokers if they continue to smoke, with up to 40 percent of the deaths occurring in middle age. (Getty Images/Mike Simons)

Deaths from cancer and new cancer cases have decreased slightly in the past few years. It's the first time the statistics have declined over an extended period and the best piece of news yet to come out of the nation's 38-year-old "war on cancer." Despite scientists' early optimism that the discovery of an actual cancer cure was imminent, most recent gains have come instead from earlier detection and cancer-prevention achievements, especially lower smoking rates. Those gains have prompted calls for a shift in federal cancer programs toward prevention and detection and away from research, which has been funded much more generously. Prevention proponents say focusing more on prevention and detection makes sense because cancer biology now demonstrates that individuals' cancers vary so widely and contain so many cell mutations that new, widely effective treatments will be even harder to come by than previously expected.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jan. 22, 2016  Fighting Cancer
Jan. 16, 2009  Preventing Cancer
Sep. 11, 1998  Cancer Treatments
Jun. 27, 1997  Breast Cancer
Aug. 25, 1995  Advances in Cancer Research
Jan. 29, 1982  New Cancer Treatments
Aug. 05, 1977  Strategies for Controlling Cancer
Aug. 16, 1974  Quest for Cancer Control
Mar. 24, 1967  Cancer Research Progress
May 12, 1951  Control of Cancer
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