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Cancer Prevention: Better Late than Never?

Robert N. Hoover, MD, ScD
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National Cancer Institute; Bethesda, MD 20892 Requests for Reprints: Robert N. Hoover, MD, ScD, National Cancer Institute, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, Room 433, 6130 Executive Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1998;128(9):771-772. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-128-9-199805010-00012
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The historical view of cancer etiology has been that the latent period between a carcinogenic exposure and the diagnosis of this disease is typically quite long. This impression has been fueled by numerous epidemiologic studies, including those of occupational cancer (for example, one review reported a 35-year mean difference between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma [1]), radiogenic cancer (another study indicated that excess cases of cancer were still occurring in Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb 40 years later [2]), and early-life risk factors for breast cancer (most studies have found that ages at menarche and first live birth were risk factors [3]).

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