The present article, which is a tribute to the memory of Dr. Edward Bresnick, emphasizes the importance of environmental and life-style factors for cancer causation in the human population and points out approaches to cancer prevention. These approaches include vaccinations for the prevention of cancers that are caused by infectious agents as well as the use of cancer chemopreventive agents. The use of tamoxifen and letrozole to prevent breast cancer, finasteride to prevent prostate cancer, sunscreens or topical applications of 5-fluorouracil to prevent sunlight-induced skin cancer, and aspirin or calcium to prevent colon cancer are a few examples of cancer chemoprevention in high risk individuals and in the general population. An underdeveloped area of cancer chemoprevention is the use of combinations of agents that work by different mechanisms. It was pointed out that animal studies indicate that many cancer chemopreventive agents inhibit carcinogenesis under one set of experimental conditions but enhance carcinogenesis under another set of experimental conditions. These observations suggest that tailoring the chemopreventive regimen to the individual or to groups of individuals living under different environmental conditions or with different mechanisms of carcinogenesis may be an important aspect of cancer chemoprevention in human populations. How to tailor cancer chemoprevention regimens to the individual is an important challenge for the future.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.