Oxford May Music: Cancer Prevention

Professor Jack Cuzick, Queen Mary University of London

Preventive therapy for cancer is still new; much can be learned from cardiovascular medicine, where it is now firmly established. This is due to the existence of agents with clearly proven efficacy and minimal side-effects, such as statins for cholesterol-lowering and antihypertensive agents to control blood pressure. For cancer, only vaccination against the human papilloma virus (cervix cancer) and hepatitis (liver cancer), aspirin for gastrointestinal cancers and anti-oestrogen agents for breast cancer have been clearly established as effective. There is a clear contrast between two different agents for preventive therapy – aspirin for gastrointestinal cancers – notably bowel, stomach and oesophageal (gullet), and endocrine therapy for breast cancer prevention. For aspirin the benefits are seen for a range of cancers, making identification of high-risk individuals difficult. For most, there are no side effects but it is desirable to identify the small subset most likely to suffer them and not offer aspirin to them. In the case of endocrine agents such as tamoxifen, the benefit is expected only for breast cancer. Development of highly predictive risk assessment models is important to identify women most likely to benefit. 

Free to those having a ticket for the evening.

Duration: 1 hour

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