Sloan Kettering CEO Craig Thompson on the revolution under way in cancer prevention and treatment
Decades into the declared modern war on cancer, scientists and clinicians are excited by what we are learning. Yet patients and families are too often frustrated by the lack of progress in prevention and treatment.
To understand this seeming paradox, we have to consider what has been learned about the biology of cancer and how we are putting this knowledge to use.
Viewed in this light, there is tremendous hope for the future, both in decreasing an individual’s lifetime risk of getting cancer and in increasing the success of treating those cancers that do arise.
Most people don’t acquire a significantly higher risk of cancer from the genes that they inherit from their parents. Instead, cancer arises as a result of copying errors (mutations) in the inherited genes, as our bodies make new cells to maintain our various organs. A recent widely quoted publication suggested that these errors are an inevitable consequence of trying to copy three billion bits of information as a cell divides.
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