Medical communities focus on cancer treatment, not prevention

November 20, 2012

Today cancer prevention and early detection is at the forefront of reducing cancer diagnoses and deaths. The curriculum of American medical schools, however, continues to emphasize the old paradigm of treatment, rather than prevention when educating our future physicians. A recent survey revealed that medical students were inadequately trained in cancer prevention knowledge, including skin cancer, a very curable disease if caught early. These knowledge gaps may stem from medical students’ lack of awareness in careers focused on prevention and lack of incentives. A major factor that deters medical students from pursuing a cancer prevention and control curriculum is a lack of funding available for those students in preventive medicine. For practicing physicians, prevention interventions in the clinical setting offer little financial incentives. To reduce the 1.6 million cancer diagnoses that will occur in 2012 alone, experts advocate for a revision of medical school curriculum that promotes cancer prevention as a primary education emphasis and a career specialty.

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