Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, taking place October 14-18, 2002, will focus on new studies describing how early intervention through novel preventive drugs, screening methods, diet and lifestyle, and surgical techniques may stop cancer before it has a chance to begin.
"Standard screenings, such as Pap smear for cervical cancer and colonoscopy for colorectal cancer, may soon be joined by a host of new screening methods, such as examination of exfoliated skin cells, patterns of protein in the blood, and nipple aspiration and ductal lavage," said Waun Ki Hong, M.D., the American Cancer Society Professor and Charles A. LeMaistre Distinguished Chair in Thoracic Oncology with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and meeting chairperson.
Developing novel drug therapies requires the identification of new drug targets, routes of administration, and approaches including gene therapy. Research into targeted therapies is yielding new advances in the way drugs are developed and used, and has begun to close the gap between therapy and prevention. For instance, tamoxifen, which originally was developed to treat breast cancer, is now proven to be effective in reducing the risk of cancer in high-risk patients.
More than a half a million people will die from cancer in 2002. It is the second leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease. AACR leaders envision a future where, through research, the suffering of millions of people worldwide will be alleviated through new prevention techniques.
"We believe that in the future we will be able to treat cancer similar to how cardiologists are treating heart disease. Through the use of preventive medications and life-style modifications, cardiology has moved beyond treating major cardiovascular disease events to identifying and treating the risk factors, such as elevated blood pressure," says Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D., president of AACR, and the Falkenstein Professor of Cancer Research and co-chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.
Some of the recent findings to be presented at the meeting include:
Advances in Breast Cancer Prevention:
· Use of a selective COX-2 inhibitor (celecoxib) as potential target for preventing and possibly treating breast cancer.
· Short-term use of pregnancy-level estrogen as protection from chemical-induced breast cancer.
Relationship Between Obesity, Calories and Cancer Prevention:
· Prepubertal diet affecting future breast cancer risk.
· Diet and exercise to minimize side effects from chemopreventive agents.
New Research in Novel Therapies and Cancer Prevention:
· Telomere shortening as an early and prevalent marker of the cancer process in several malignancies. · Genetic testing to help drive people to be screened for colorectal cancer.
"Despite the substantial progress in cancer prevention, there are still many obstacles to overcome," explains Dr. Hong. "Future prevention research should increasingly integrate genomic studies with studies of environmental factors, lifestyle and diet. We need to determine why some agents have preventive qualities in one organ, yet seem to stimulate cancer growth in another. There is still much to be learned."
Some 1,000 scientists, oncology experts and others interested in cancer prevention are attending Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is a professional society of more than 19,000 laboratory and clinical scientists engaged in cancer research in the United States in more than 60 other countries. AACR's mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals (Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention).