arbess1_Dan KitwoodGetty ImagesCancer Research UK_cancerresearch Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Cancer Research UK

New Thinking for a New Cancer Moonshot

Scientific advances over the past decade have given us the tools to move from fighting cancerous tumors to identifying and intercepting the biological mechanisms that cause them. The real cancer moonshot required is thus to adapt our mindsets and institutions to this new knowledge.

NEW YORK – US President Joe Biden’s recently announced goal of reducing America’s cancer death rate by half in the next 25 years, with its encouraging emphasis on early detection and prevention, sounds bold. But we can do even more to tackle the disease – and faster.

That is because scientific advances over the past decade have given us the tools to move from fighting cancerous tumors to identifying and intercepting the biological mechanisms that cause them. The problem is that prevention and wellness are not yet reimbursed in a health-care system designed to manage symptoms. We therefore need a new cancer moonshot to adapt our mindsets and institutions to the new science, as we did after the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.

For over a century, clinicians have been trained to define and treat conditions they can see, which is why they classify tumors according to where in the body they are found. But what if the damage causing the tumor occurs somewhere else?

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