NewYork-Presbyterian Launches New Front in War on Cancer

National Cancer Prevention Newsletter and Web Site Debut

Mar 17, 2003

New York, NY

While the three decades since the start of the American War on Cancer have witnessed many innovative offensive strategies to treat the disease, a new key battle that may well be the turning point has emerged the battle of prevention. As part of this attempt to keep the enemy from even entering the field, the Cancer Prevention Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has launched a national newsletter and Web site to keep both consumers and health professionals abreast of the latest developments in this new field of cancer prevention.

Cancer Prevention, a joint effort of the Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's two major centers aims to cast cancer in a new light to change its perception as a life-threatening disease that can only be treated to a disease that can, in many instances, be prevented. The newsletter and Web site ( will provide a forum in which the most recent cancer prevention innovations from the laboratory to the clinic to the public at large will be presented. They will feature articles by scientists and public health personnel from around the world on the very latest topics of interest in this new field of cancer prevention.

Although the American public is very aware that changes in lifestyle or using medications to reduce cholesterol levels can prevent heart disease, most people are unaware that cancer also can be prevented, points out Andrew J. Dannenberg, M.D., Co-director of the Cancer Prevention Program at the Columbia Weill Cornell Cancer Centers of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and one of the founding editors of Cancer Prevention. By creating a national newsletter on cancer prevention, we hope to bridge this knowledge gap and increase awareness that prevention is possible. Dr. Dannenberg is also the Henry R. Erle, M.D.- Roberts Family Professor of Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and a world leader in research concerning COX-2 as a potential target for cancer prevention and treatment.

Dr. Dannenberg and I are active scientists and clinicians in cancer prevention. We know that the American public is often confused by the amount of information that is presented to them about cancer and unsure of what to do to reduce the risk of developing the disease, notes Alfred I. Neugut, M.D., Ph.D., Co-director of the Cancer Prevention Program and the other founding editor of Cancer Prevention. We want to use our background and expertise to bring knowledgeable and accurate information on cancer prevention to the public. And we want to provide an avenue for the dissemination of cancer prevention information among our colleagues as well. With the support of our institution, the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, we now have an effective forum in which to accomplish our goal. Dr. Neugut is also Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Columbia University College of Physicians Surgeons and Mailman School of Public Health, Head of Cancer Prevention at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, and an internationally recognized authority in cancer epidemiology.

Continues Dr. Dannenberg, Cancer does not simply appear. It's the end product of a disease process called carcinogenesis. There are numerous opportunities to prevent cancer, ranging from early detection to the development of new medications that can either halt the progression of precancer or cause its regression. We need to raise awareness of these opportunities among both our colleagues and the public.

According to Drs. Dannenberg and Neugut, cancer prevention stands today about 10 to 15 years behind where cardiovascular disease was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when preventive strategies such as blood pressure control, cholesterol control, increased physical activity, weight control, and tobacco cessation were introduced and widely adopted. The consequence has been the dramatic fall in cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality.

Cancer soon will replace cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death in the U.S. In large part, this stems from the successes that the medical profession and public health officials have had in reducing mortality from cardiovascular diseases. As a result, life expectancy in the U.S. has been extended. While this may bring added years of enjoyment to many Americans, the downside is that more of them are developing cancer, albeit at an older age. This makes concerted efforts to reduce the incidence and mortality from cancer all the more important.

Some of these same risk-reducing tools are currently in our hands, ready to be used for cancer prevention. These include tobacco cessation, the development of medications to treat precancer, increased physical activity, and the use of screening for the early detection of both precancer and cancer. The full effects of such measures remain to be seen, and new advances in technology, both for cancer prevention and for cancer screening, are appearing almost daily. Cancer Prevention, both the newsletter and Web site, will appear in two formats one for the public, one for health professionals and serve as the venue to explain, evaluate, and discuss these new advances, explains Dr. Neugut.

These measures can be seen as the new weapons as we enter the fourth decade of the American 'war on cancer,' says Dr. Dannenberg. As we move into the 21st century, the new battle of cancer prevention begins, a battle that ultimately will be the one that will allow us to finally claim victory in the 'war against cancer.' Cancer Prevention is part of the battle plan, and it is our hope that consumers and professionals alike will enjoy it, learn from it, and ultimately benefit from it, he concludes.

Support for Cancer Prevention has been provided through an unrestricted educational grant from Pharmacia Corporation and Pfizer Inc.