Dr. Laura Goetz talks latest developments in Cancer Prevention Strategies
Dr. Laura Goetz with Scripps Clinic will lead a free public lecture on July 20 about the latest developments in cancer prevention. Lauren Phinney spoke to her Monday morning about her upcoming lecture and why she’s passionate about prevention.
After many years of performing surgeries to remove colorectal cancers, Dr. Goetz grew tired of taking out the tumors — and realized she could have an even bigger impact on patients if she could help them prevent getting cancer in the first place.
“There has been a lot of progress in new approaches to treating cancers, and now we need more focus on the prevention side as well,” said Dr. Goetz, who in addition to being a practicing surgeon is also board-certified in preventive medicine and is an active researcher and genetic counselor.
Research shows that only 8 percent of U.S. adults over age 35 get all of their recommended preventive medicine screenings. To help bridge this gap, Dr. Goetz began seeing patients at her cancer prevention clinics at Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines and Scripps Mercy Hospital. Opened last fall, these are believed to be the first such medical clinics in the region dedicated solely on cancer prevention.
Dr. Goetz says this shortfall in cancer screening compliance is due to various factors. For one, doctors face time constraints during appointments – they are usually focused on addressing a patient’s immediate health concern, and don’t have enough time for a comprehensive review of all prevention and screening strategies. Second, many patients procrastinate getting screened, either out of fear, inconvenience or lack of encouragement.
There are highly effective screenings available to detect some cancers – such as colorectal, breast and melanoma – at their pre-cancerous stage, enabling doctors to remove them before cancer occurs. And new screening technologies and techniques are on the horizon, such as use of artificial intelligence and blood tests (liquid biopsies).
Scripps is collaborating with MD Anderson Cancer Center (the nation’s top-rated cancer center) to open a new integrated cancer program in San Diego this fall. The program will follow MD Anderson’s guidelines for screenings, with decisions made in partnership between patients and their physicians, based on each individual’s situation and preferences.