The cancer research community is giving too much attention to ‘tumour biology’ at the expense of efforts to prevent the tumours in the first place, a commentary in the journal Lancet Oncology has warned.
Commenting on the heavily promoted emphasis on ‘precision oncology’, the editorial points to the growing support for research on immunological and genetic susceptibility to cancers. “But can this insatiable desire to enhance our fundamental understanding of tumour biology overshadow the health gains that could be secured by improved environmental protection?”, it questions.
“Cancer is a product of both nature and nurture, in which environmental risk is an equally crucial — and often neglected — factor because it is a multisectorial issue.”
The editorial highlighting the ‘cancer risk paradox’ continues: “A large-scale economic inefficiency clearly exists, with financial resources being divided into both the science of cancer prevention and also into efforts to help those who have developed cancer as a direct result of human mismanagement of the planet. To see a world in which fewer people die of cancer, both areas must be addressed.”
Warning against moves to remove environmental protections, promote polluting industries or to fail to regulate pollution effectively, the paper concludes: “To eradicate cancer, governments need to both identify and act not only on increased risk susceptibility, but also ensure that people are not exposed to carcinogenic materials through gross environmental mismanagement.”