We Must Find Ways to Detect Cancer Much Earlier

Azra Raza and other members of The Oncology Think Tank in Scientific American:

Azra Raza and Patrizia Paterlini

Every year, cancer kills approximately 10 million people worldwide. Of those who die, two thirds do so because they were diagnosed with advanced disease. A new paradigm in the approach to cancer is overdue. COVID-19 has already altered conversations and expectations within the medical community and is forcing a rethinking of many public health issues.

To contemplate a transformative approach for the postpandemic cancer landscape, The Oncology Think Tank (TOTT) was created in June 2020, bringing together a diverse group of thought leaders, researchers and oncologists from academia and industry. Meetings were held remotely, at least once a week and sometimes twice weekly for four months. The burden of TOTT was to formulate a fresh, compassionate, patient-centric, effective and radically different vision for health care’s approach to cancer. This opinion paper will focus on what TOTT believes is the best way forward with a goal of reducing the number of patients who are diagnosed with, or develop, advanced stage cancers and die.

There has been universal agreement that the best way to abolish cancer’s terrible impact on the world is through early detection. In October, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) published an article in the Lancet Oncology laying out an important cross-sectoral vision for a future where no cancer will be detected too late to treat. TOTT proposes not just early stage I and II cancer detection as understood today but to reach farther back in time to spot the earliest detectable precancerous perturbations.

More here.