As regular readers of this blog know, I am an advocate for studying the precancers. I believe that successful treatment of the precancers is feasible, and that it will lead to the near-eradication of cancer.
In a prior blog, I listed arguments, that I have encountered over the years, against the the importance of precancer research. This is the fifth of several blogs where I respond to the arguments.
Argument. Precancer research falls under cancer prevention. This is true because when you treat a precancer, you prevent a cancer. Cancer prevention is an adequately funded area of cancer research, so we really do not need to assign any special funding to precancer research.
Response. Prevention is a funded research area at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, within the Division of Cancer Prevention. Cancer prevention involves identifying and eliminating carcinogens as well as adopting lifestyles that are thought to minimize exposure to carcinogens or to increase the ingestion of anti-carcinogens (found in fruits and vegetables) in the diet. These priorities are not really aimed at precancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.
Likewise, the precancers have not been included in the initiatives of NCI's Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, most of which are aimed at finding or testing new chemotherapeutic agents for cancers.
Precancer treatment is an area that has not fallen neatly into any of the National Cancer Institute Divisions. The precancers have never gotten all the attention they deserve.
Argument. People are dying from malignant tumors every day. Even if we could stop the occurrence of new cancers, by treating the precancers, we cannot deviate from our commitment to help people whose cancers have progressed beyond the precancer stage.
Response. Individuals with advanced, metastatic cancers may or may not benefit from an expansion of research activity in the precancers. At this point, we simply do not know whether agents that treat precancers will have activity against metastatic or invasive tumors. The commonly occurring advanced, metastatic cancers have been an intractable problem, resisting all past efforts.
All those who are attacked by metastatic cancer wish they lived in a world where cancers are stopped before they invade and metastasize. Precancer research will help create a better world for their loved ones.
Next blog entry in precancer series
Copyright (C) Jules J. Berman 2008
key words: preneoplasia, premalignant, preneoplastic, incipient neoplasia, pre-cancer, dysplasia, metaplasia, intraepithelial neoplasia, premalignancy, premalignancies, precancers, precancerous, carcinogenesis, pathology, cancer research, cancer funding, cancer research funding, funding for cancer research