Smoking is only one among many avoidable causes of cancer. Alcohol is another; so are certain foods and certain substances added to foods to preserve or flavor them. Over-exposure to the sun's radiation can produce a skin cancer, the penetrating radiation of X-ray can cause cancers deep in the body. Most insidious and diverse of all are the cancer-causing chemicals encountered in factories, mines and almost every other area in which materials are processed or chemically changed. Hardly a month passes in which cancer detectives do not identify a new suspect for this rogues gallery or find a new outbreak of a known criminal.

Substances and forces that cause cancer are called carcinogens. The hunt for them goes on and campaigns to eradicate them are only beginning to have an effect. But if every carcinogen now recognized could be eliminated overnight, the incidence of cancer would be cut in half by the year 2000.

It is in the light of such hard facts that Dr.Vincent De Vita's statement on cancer's curability assumes its full dimensions. Half of all cancers can be prevented; more than half of those that cannot be prevented can be cured. Over the next generation, because of these 2 facts alone, the annual number of cancer deaths in the industrrialized world can be reduced from 183 to 55 per 100,000. The estimate is conservative; further-and almost certain-advances in prevention and cure would improve it. Clearly, the war against cancer is winnable and it is being won.

The war is far from over. Cancer remains a major killer. On many fronts, campaigns against the disease falter or do not move all. Avoiding carcinogens in everyday life means giving up cherished habits; eliminating them from the workplace has heavy economic consequences - lost jobs, lost revenues and increased costs. Early detection and diagnosis, which offer the best chance of curing a cancer, are often neglected or ignored; and some types of cancer still stubbornly resist the best available treatment.

The battles that have been won in the desperate war on cancer are almost entirely victories of recent years. Until the end of the 19th century, the disease was indeed essentially incurable; some superficial cancers could be removed by surgery, but nothing more. At the turn of the 20th the range of therapy broadened to include X-ray treatments, which can burn away both surface and deep cancers; the nature and causes of the disease, however were still matters of speculation. Then with the explosive growth of medical knowledge following World War II, scientist and physicians acquired four major resources in their unending battle, all new and all further strengthened with each passing year. They know how to prevent most cancers. they have superb diagnostic tools to catch it early, often long before any ordinary symptoms of illness appear. They have an arsenal of marvelously effective weapons against it; treatments by surgery, radiation and drugs that far surpass anything the world has ever known. And perhaps most important, they know what cancer is.

To enrich our knowledge about cancer, these are quality books to read :

The Biology of Cancer by Robert A.Weinberg



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