At the end of August, the World Cancer Congress 2012 was held in Canada.  The congress is a meeting of professionals - research and practice - that occurs every two years.  The purpose is to share experience and knowledge to impact change in cancer occurrence and outcomes (death). 
   Once again, but with growing unity and urgency, people who study cancer in labs, communities and patients and those who treat patients, tell us that at the very least 50% of cancer can be prevented.  
   Prevented by what we do, what we are exposed to, whether or not we are immune to viruses (HPV, HCV, HBV) and the screenings we complete (PAP, sigmoidoscopy). 
   Graham Colditz, PhD, DrPH was one of the presenters.  He notes smoking as the cause of 30% of all cancer and said that reducing smoking rates to 11% (like in Utah) would reduce smoking related cancers by 75%.  He also noted that being overweight accounts for about 20% of cancers (and that to prevent cancer the BMI range should be between 21 to 23).  Physical inactivity and poor diet ( defined as a diet that does not include the better foods in adequate amounts and does not limit others (salt, trans fat, sat fat, sugar) each cause about 5% of cancer and if improved would reduce the new cases of cancer substantially.
   I have no doubt that this is true.  Therefore, I have strong reservations on spending my money (donations) or the governments money to explore treatment/cures when we are doing nothing to stop the cases from coming.  It is like this familiar health care story.  Do we keep training EMTs, buying ambulances and expanding hospital ER rooms to treat drowning victims - or do we fix the hole in the bridge. Public health folks, like me, want to fix the bridge. {some people would do neither and just educate people to stop falling into the hole!}
    I would like money to be spent on improving our environment so that eating well, moving more, consuming the right amount of calories, getting appropriate and evidence based health screenings and vaccinations is EASY.  (even if this means some kind of regulation)
   We are fools to keep treating things that we can prevent.  (I in no way place blame on cancer or heart disease patients and I am not suggesting that we not treat their illnesses. [the pharmaceutical industry would never have that!] I just want to point out the futility on a population level.   I see the environment and health care system as places to intervene, and when situations are truly conducive to good health, then I view personal responsibility as a possible nationwide focus.) 

 See more about the World Cancer Congress and the UICC here.
{note when looking at studies or speeches like this - there are two sets of numbers to explore - the percent of cancer that is accounted for by a factor and the amount that can be prevented if that factor is addressed}