Cancer prevention research is extremely integral in the oncology field. Over the years, oncology research has allowed scientists to learn about cancer’s onset, growth, and treatment. Because of this knowledge, doctors have discovered better prevention methods and targeted treatments.
The Importance of Cancer Research
Back in the 1950s, the American Cancer Society began researching the leading causes of cancer. These long-term studies looked at lifestyle, behavioral, and medical factors to see why some participants developed cancer. In the Hammond-Horn Cohort Study, researchers found proof that men’s lung cancer and cardiovascular disease were linked to cigarette smoking. Because of cancer prevention studies like this one, researchers have figured out better prevention methods.
How Cancer Prevention Studies Have Led to a Better Understanding of Cancer
The importance of cancer research is based on how it affects prevention and treatment techniques. Because of the money scientists spend on research and innovation, doctors know how hormone use, obesity, diet, air pollution, and other exposure types can cause cancer. For instance, the American Cancer Society’s CPS-I and CPS-II studies showed that obesity makes premature death, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer more likely.
Cancer prevention studies have also shed light on how physical exercise and lifestyle factors can cause cancer. A lack of physical activity and extra time spent on sedentary activities are linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. Likewise, red meat, alcohol, and processed meat are risk factors for cancer development.
While cancer prevention research has identified the leading causes of cancer, some of these causes are impossible to prevent. Several genetic mutations have been linked to certain cancers. For instance, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are linked to a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. The presence of these genes can change a patient’s treatment options. Some women decide to remove both breasts if they possess one of these genes and have breast cancer in just one breast.
Oncology Research Is Causing the Number of New Cancer Cases to Decline
Before scientific proof connected tobacco to lung cancer, around 40 percent of Americans smoked. Today, about 20 percent of the population smokes cigarettes. As more has become known about the leading causes of cancer, doctors and patients have been able to design better prevention methods. Back in 1992, there were 495.1 cases of cancer for every 100,000 people. In 2019, this figure dropped to 418.4 cases. Meanwhile, the death rate fell from 213.5 to 146 cases out of 100,000 people.
While the current five-year survival rate is 70.3 percent, it was only 50 percent in 1975. This change is because people are less likely to get cancer today. Patients can prevent cancer from forming by quitting cigarettes, eating healthy, weighing an average amount, and exercising. If cancer does develop, new screening techniques can help. Colon cancer screening, pap tests, and mammograms can spot cancers early. By diagnosing and treating these cancers immediately, doctors can reduce cancer deaths.
Research Challenges and Opportunities for the Future
While research and innovation have helped make people healthier, potential pitfalls must be avoided. Excessive screening can sometimes spot irregularities that will never actually become cancer. When this happens, someone may receive cancer treatments that they don’t need.
Prevention research should focus on cancer risk factors among older adults and early-onset cancer in the future. Since 42.4 percent of American adults are currently obese, oncology research is increasingly vital in this field. Likewise, more cancer prevention research budgets should look at genetic risk factors and molecular subtypes of different cancers.
The importance of cancer research is difficult to understate, but it’s often ignored by the people who are impacted the most. When a case of cancer is prevented through prevention techniques, patients are unaware that their long-term health and longevity have been improved. Despite the often thankless nature of research and innovation, this field can still tremendously impact people’s lives throughout the country.
About Verdi Oncology
At Verdi Oncology, we support the development and expansion of clinical pathways. With help from members of our network, we provide personalized treatment options and advanced research programs to improve the future of cancer care for patients and their families. Contact us to learn more about joining our small, community-based oncology practice network.