Senior officials of the National Cancer Institute are developing
strategies to achieve the goal set forth by NCI director Andrew C.
von Eschenbach, MD, of eliminating the suffering and death
caused by cancer by 2015. The institute expects to unveil the new
strategies during the next 12 months.
"These are key initiatives that we are going to be embarking upon," Dr.
von Eschenbach said at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board.
The new strategies will encompass the research funded by the NCI across
the areas of discovery, development, and delivery, and will include NCI
and the scientists it funds as well as the cancer community as a whole.
"One of the strategies is in the area of molecular epidemiology," the
NCI director said. "The others are integrated cancer biology; the strategic
development of cancer interventions; programs in early detection,
prevention, and prediction; integrated clinical trials systems; overcoming
health disparities; and bioinformatics."
Dr. von Eschenbach emphasized that the goal is not to eliminate
cancer, but the morbidity and mortality caused by its various forms. "It
is important to keep that distinction before us," he said.
He said that as we begin to understand cancer as a disease process,
we now have multiple opportunities to intervene: to preempt cancer
initiation and progression so that some people never develop the disease;
to detect the disease early and eliminate it in those who do
develop cancer; and to manage the progression and evolution of the
disease so that individuals with cancer do not die from it. The NCI director
said his optimism that researchers can achieve the goal in little more than a
decade stems from the knowledge base and scientific expertise that the
nation has built since the signing of the National Cancer Act in 1971.