ECP was established in the early 80ties by a group of pioneers when it became obvious that cancer was a preventable disease in a similar way as cardiovascular diseases can be prevented. The founders came from different European countries under the strong visionary leadership of Professor Michael J. Hill. And Europe was considered as a kind of laboratory since the many countries had clearly distinct lifestyles. Comparisons were made for example between the South with a Mediterranean kind of nutrition and the Scandinavian countries; between East and West. Combined with epidemiology from the rest of the world, cancer prevention did emerge as reputable science with powerful impact on cancer prevalence.
Young researchers, including myself, were encouraged by their universities to join this fresh breeze in science and started to unveil the causes of cancer through epidemiology, laboratory and clinical research. Molecular biology appeared almost simultaneously along with technical innovations in the hospital with impact on cancer causation but also on early detection of cancer. International research, although traditionally restricted to national funding mechanisms, got a stimulus because political Europe was becoming a reality. Annual meetings, integrated scientific research, and easier travel made international networking possible in particular because of the enhanced information flow and last but not least because of the internet.
It became clear that ECP needed another major and dedicated platform, a Journal, and in 1992 the European Journal of Cancer Prevention was a fact. Scientific research groups could publish their work more reliably among PEERs.
But medicine exploded also with splendid new technologies, for example in medical imaging with the coming of ultrasound, CT-scans, MRI, PET and medical treatments, mainly based on proper molecular biology work. These clinical advances looked more appealing than we are used to in prevention. The medical device and pharmaceutical industry boomed in the 90ties and the early 21st century. The computerized informatics entered the hospitals at a speed never seen. The confidence in these new diagnostics and therapeutics draw the attention away from prevention. Budgets for prevention came under substantial pressure. It is one of the major achievements of ECP to remain adept to cancer prevention during this euphoria of medical technology. In 2003, when the inspiring president Mike Hill himself became victim of this dreadful disease, ECP and even the Journal came in danger.
But it became clear that cancer mortality was only slightly affected by the newer storm of medical technical power and that cancer prevention remained one of the major tools to fight the disease. ECP and, more importantly, the Journal survived and experienced a new growth that was stronger than ever before. New members, in particular experts in molecular biology, statisticians, nutrition experts, and clinicians took up their responsibilities. The impact factor of the Journal is strongly rising, submissions are doubling, and the message is coming from and going to all parts of the world. ECP has again the possibility to provide grants to young researcher to travel and to gain knowledge and communicate their findings to an international audience. Prevention is back again and with enormous power to reduce cancer burden worldwide.