Cancer: endgame or shifting goalposts

Main Article Content

Mostafa Fatehi

Keywords

Cancer Disparities, Cancer epidemiology, Cancer Stem Cells, Synthetic Lethality, Primary Cancer Prevention, Secondary Cancer Prevention, Teritiary Cancer Prevention, Tobacco control

Abstract

As part of its 1971 National Cancer Act, the United States Congress declared that cancer incidence rates were increasing, that cancer was the major health concern of the time and that cancer was a major cause of death in the US. The congress also found that new scientific leads, if comprehensively and energetically exploited, may significantly advance the time when more adequate preventive and therapeutic capabilities are available to cope with cancer. Four decades later these statements are all still considered as truisms. While the overall incidence rate in the United States has been declining slowly in the past decade, worldwide incidence rates have increased at an alarming rate. At the same time, much has been learnt about the mechanisms that predispose one to cancer and there is clear evidence that preventative measures such as healthy lifestyles and public health action can stem this trend. Furthermore, advances in treatment have improved prognoses for many of the major cancers and, as enhanced scientific knowledge of cancer is translated into novel clinical applications, there is an overall sense of optimism in the research community battling cancer.