time—for example, risk for most cancers increases with
age—it is important that individuals continually evaluate
their personal screening plans and update them if necessary.
A New Era of Precision Prevention
As we develop and implement new strategies that pair our
increased molecular understanding of cancer development
with knowledge of an individual’s unique cancer risk profile,
including genetic makeup at birth, exposures to cancer-risk
factors, age, and gender, we will usher in a new era of precision
prevention and interception ( 89) (see Figure 13).
Precision prevention and interception are not entirely new
concepts. For example, we know that some individuals are
at increased risk of certain cancers because they inherited a
cancer-predisposing genetic mutation (see Table 5, p. 51). If a
person thinks that that he or she are at high risk for developing
an inherited cancer (see sidebar on How Do I Know If I Am at
High Risk for Developing an Inherited Cancer?, p. 52), he or
she should consult a physician and consider genetic testing,
and if the person does indeed carry one of these mutations,
risk-reducing measures tailored to his or her precise needs can
be taken (see sidebar on Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing, p.
52). Some people at high risk might be able to reduce their risk
of developing cancer by modifying their behaviors, whereas
others might need to increase their participation in screening
programs or consider taking a preventive medicine or having
risk-reducing surgery (see Table 6, p. 51 and Appendix Table 2,
Despite the progress that has been made in cancer
prevention, early detection, and interception, not all cancers
are currently preventable and not everyone has access to or
takes advantage of current prevention and early detection
strategies. Moreover, these strategies are not equally
effective for all individuals.
Precision prevention and interception have the potential to
address these issues and to significantly reduce the personal
and financial burdens of cancer. However, achieving this
potential will require input from researchers across the
spectrum of biomedical research.
of new u.s. cancer cases are linked
to inherited genetic mutations ( 22).