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Davos hears cancer breakthrough hopes

Davos hears cancer breakthrough hopes

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Optimism about the progress in finding cures for cancer and pessimism about the future prospects of some of the world's larger countries marked the opening morning of discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Paul A. Marks, President Emeritus of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in the U.S., told delegates that there was a very large margin for improvement in cancer treatment.

Richard Klausner, Director of America’s National Cancer Institute, said that advances made already had resulted in the mortality rate from cancer in the U.S. peaking in 1995 and falling since then.

The developing ability to read the complete molecular profile of the cancer cell would enable doctors to make much more accurate diagnosis and to treat cancers more specifically.

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    He predicted further advances from the development of biological markers for the presence of cancer.

    Marks said that the diagnosis of some forms of cancer would become increasingly less invasive and that more cancer treatment would be done in future out of hospital, reducing the risks of picking up infections.

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    In a discussion on geo-politics and potential world trouble spots attention focussed on Colombia, North Korea, Taiwan and Pakistan.

    Erik Peterson, Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S., said that Colombia remained a potential epicentre of instability with worries about the Colombian Army’s ability to assert control over the south of the country and to maintain the drug eradication campaign.

    Conflicts, he said, were spreading to neighbouring countries.

    In Asia the dangers were seen as the continuing tension over the Taiwan Strait, the weakness of some governments in the face of militant Islamic movements and the fact that nothing had changed in the military postures in North Korea despite the rapprochement with the South.

    Another factor in Asia was uncertainty over attitudes of the new administration of President George W. Bush.

    Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, drew much attention with his argument that along with authoritarian, communist, democratic and democratising states there was now a fifth classification -- that of “messy states”.

    Messy states, said Friedman, were “too big to fail and too messy to work.”

    They were states where the levers came off in the hands of those who purported to be in charge and when people were killed no one knew whether it was by order of the government or as a result of the government’s lack of control.

    He included both Russia and Indonesia in the “messy states” category.

    Security tight for world forum
    January 25, 2001

    World Economic Forum

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