WASHINGTON DC – Today experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) welcome the announcement in President Obama’s State of the Union Address of a cancer “moonshot” – a coordinated effort to break down cancer research silos, increase resources, and get effective treatments into the hands of more Americans. AICR studies how diet, weight and physical activity affect cancer risk, treatment and survival.
“Let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” the President said, and AICR applauds this bold and decisive initiative. We need more and better cancer research that produces results that are accessible to those who so desperately need them.
We hold no illusions, however: the challenges will be great. Cancer is not one disease but many, with different risk factors and, of necessity, different treatments. Furthermore, any two people who contract the same cancer possess different genetic and metabolic profiles, which means any treatment – let alone cure – must be highly tailored and targeted.
As a plan for the future, President Obama’s pledge is inspiring. But better treatments are only half the cancer story. AICR research has shown that we can prevent nearly one-third of the cancers that occur every year in the US if Americans made healthier choices, including moving more and eating smart. Add in not smoking, and approximately half the cancers in the US would be prevented. That can happen today.
What’s more, making such changes would yield wide-ranging dividends: we would prevent many cancers – and lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases as well.
It’s not an either/or proposition, of course: to be effective, better treatments must go hand-in-hand with better and more comprehensive prevention efforts. We hope and trust the President’s “moonshot” initiative will be felt across the entirety of the cancer continuum. We proudly join him in his quest not simply to “cure” individual cancers, but to bring about an end to cancer itself.