The goals of cancer prevention are to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality due to cancer through the identification and elimination of precancerous lesions (termed intraepithelial neoplasias or lENs) and/or the early detection of minimally invasive cancers. Cancer is a global term for a variety of diseases that are characterized by uncontrolled cellular growth. The site of origin of the disease is used to define general categories of cancer (e.g. breast cancer, skin cancer). Worldwide, the incidence and mortality from cancer has been increasing, despite recent advances in the understanding and treatment of many diseases. This emphasizes the need to define the etiology and molecular basis of cancer and to prevent that cancer from developing. The concept of cancer prevention is changing gradually as we gain a greater understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of carcinogenesis. Certainly, it is understood that the cancer patient is not well one day and the next day diagnosed with cancer. It is estimated that there is an average lag of at least 20 years between the development of the first cancer cell and the onset of metastatic disease for a broad range of solid tumors. In that there were an estimated 563,700 cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2004, and given the 20+ year lag time, more than ten million "healthy" Americans harbor ultimately deadly cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas