Public Health Deans Express Concerns on Cancer Effort

March 21, 2016

More than 70 deans of schools of public health are releasing a letter to Vice President Biden expressing concerns about the focus of a new federal effort to combat cancer. President Obama named Biden in February to lead the National Cancer Moonshot, a $1 billion effort to find ways to prevent and cure cancer.

The public health deans endorsed the idea of fighting cancer, but said that they feared that the effort was focused too much on biology and not enough on human behavior. "We are concerned, however, that the initiative may be undervaluing the vital role that public health and prevention have played -- and must continue to play -- in reducing cancer incidence and mortality," the letter says. "Since the beginning of the 'War on Cancer,' the most notable cancer successes have been due to the power and efficacy of prevention. The massive reductions in lung, cervical, colorectal and gastric cancer mortality rates are almost entirely due to a focus on public health and prevention approaches (including screening)."

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