Four Scenarios Describe Impact of Cancer Research in 2015

Four Scenarios Describe Impact of Cancer Research in 2015

NEW YORK--To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the American Cancer Society has led an effort to anticipate how the world might be in 2015 and how that might affect the control of cancer.

Helene G. Brown reported that four scenarios were developed. "These are not predictions but represent the construction of likely plots based on available information and knowledge of the possibilities," she said at the Third World Congress of Psycho-Oncology.

Ms. Brown, director of community applications of research, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA, described each scenario and its effect on age-adjusted cancer mortality.

  • Business as usual. In this scenario, basic health problems of the 1990s persist. "The population in 2015 continues to indulge in poor diets and avoid exercise, and many continue to abuse alcohol, tobacco, and drugs," she said. Age-adjusted cancer mortality declines by 15% from 1990 levels.
  • Hard times. Severe recessions and consistently high unemployment conspire to increase health risks. "Things fall apart and there is an expected increase in cancer mortality of 15%," Dr. Brown said.
  • Stone soup. In this scenario, "hard times" are averted, as the independent sector successfully launches effective health education and information programs, and interactive participation in health by every citizen helps communities adopt sound health practices.
  • Both public and private sectors vigorously attack what they called bad health habits. Advances in cancer risk identification and in detection combine with a more spartan lifestyle to reduce age adjusted cancer mortality by 30% from 1990 levels.
  • Great strides. The fruits of the information revolution and a commitment to sustainable development bring great progress in this, the happiest of the four scenarios. New technologies and a maximum 30-hour work week have enhanced economic competitiveness and kept unemployment low. Optimum cooperation by families and communities helps push age-adjusted mortality down 70% from 1990 levels.

"Everybody wants great strides to happen, but realistically everybody thinks that stone soup is more likely to occur," Ms. Brown concluded. She emphasized that these scenarios are only learning tools that tell their story about the future in several ways. "The future is uncertain, but without research and funding, there is no future."

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