It's a question that has emerged in the past 20 years, given advances in screening and early diagnosis, rapid developments in genetics and molecular biology, and progress in the treatment of early disease and in next-generation targeted therapies.
And finding answers is one of the top goals of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, which has one of the largest cancer prevention research programs in the world.
M. D. Anderson was among the first to begin dedicated prevention research efforts in the late 1970s. A decade ago, nine faculty were working on 23 projects - a pursuit that was regarded as trend-setting at the time. The cancer center's focus on prevention has grown so much in recent years that the 48 faculty, involved in 140-plus research projects and clinical programs valued at more than $20 million in 2005 alone, just moved into the new Cancer Prevention Building.
In addition to housing faculty offices, the building's Cancer Prevention Center and new Behavioral Research and Treatment Center provide advanced early detection and risk-reduction services and state-of-the-art biobehavioral and psychosocial research venues.
These two centers involve only a sliver of the basic and applied research under way. In short, the researchers, physicians, nurses, employees and volunteers that staff this building aim to bring about a future that may some day be free of cancer.
They also are the first to say that attaining this goal will not be easy; that prevention will require developing a wide variety of strategies and associated tactics to curtail the variety of different diseases, all called cancer, that have now emerged as the number one killer of Americans under age 85.
"Prevention is very broad," says Bernard Levin, M.D., vice president and head of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. "It is not just prevention of can
Contact: Nancy Jensen
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center