A Brief Discourse on Cancer Prevention Research – It is estimated that 2.1 million people in the US will be positive for cancer by 2025. To put that into perspective, the number was an increase of 31% from 2012. The number of cancer related deaths increases even faster; it is estimated that by 2025, there would be 850,000 cases, an increase of 37% from 620,000. The numbers and increases call for improvements in cancer prevention as only through it can greater progress be achieved. The US implements tobacco control programs and the programs have been proven capable of saving almost 800,000 lives from 1975 to 2000 alone.
Researchers continue on studying new approaches to cancer prevention. They test many methods to prevent cancer using identification of biological mechanisms such as how obesity and diabetes are related to cancer; identification of the mechanism of interaction between immune system and precancerous, healthy, and tumor cells; examining the possibility of a drug used in treating unrelated condition causing cancer instead, site also developing methods to examine socioeconomic, biological, and other factors that may lead to increase in cancer risk; analysis of impact of different environmental exposures in increasing cancer risk; and identification of methods that may prevent cancer in those whose risk have increased.
But research on cancer prevention isn’t without challenges, unfortunately.
Time has been one of those challenges that play a role bigger than one can expect. Just imagine, it could take decades just to find out if a prevention method can actually bring down the number of cancer cases or cancer-related deaths. Identification of risk factors, environmental and behavioral ones, is conducted through a lengthy period as well. Studies in this area also call for logistical hurdles; it takes specific tools for development and validation and for measuring risk factors accurately. These days, genetic tests and risk assessment tools are available to identify individuals at increased risk for a small group of cancer types. On the other hand, there have been struggles in developing tests that may help identify those at risk for most cancer types owing to the disease being overly complex.
Preventive therapies also face challenges in their development. Researchers may have been able to understand cellular event that trigger cancer but they have yet to discover a method to specifically interfere with said cellular event. Research on cancer prevention often involves those who are healthy despite being at increased risk of cancer. Things are made even worse with the private sector normally not interested in spending resources in cancer prevention and risk reduction.