The Long War on Cancer
- Jill Rosenbaum
That expectation was raised in part by the PR campaign, complete with ads suggesting we could cure cancer by the bicentennial, that successfully pushed President Nixon to support what came to be called his “War on Cancer.”
Since then, the United States government has spent over 100 billion dollars on research and scientists have learned a great deal about how cancer works. While some drugs do extend life, we’ve also seen numerous new drugs and treatments, like Interferon, bone marrow transplants for breast cancer or Interleukin-2 heralded as “breakthroughs,” only to disappoint or even harm patients over time.
There has been long-term success treating a few types of cancer, including lymphomas and leukemias as well as testicular cancer. Early detection and screening, while controversial for some cancers, has also prevented many deaths from cervical and colorectal cancer. But after all these years, all this money, and all of these drugs, most cancers still kill once they metastacize, and over half a million Americans die from the disease each year. Despite the fact that treatments get the most press coverage, the greatest reductions in cancer mortality rates can be credited to lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking. But as we become more obese, and more sedentary, that progress may prove elusive, too.
More Like This
Finding the Code: The Race to Sequence the Human Genome and What It Means
One of biology’s most spectacular achievements -- the race to sequence the human genome -- was billed as a way to end disease. Here's where it led.
Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery
In 2007, the scandalous treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center shocked the nation. Today, after major reforms, what’s changed for America’s injured soldiers?
A Change of Heart
The artificial heart became a media sensation in the 1980s as it both raised hopes and spread controversy. Today its impact on medical science is still playing out in surprising ways.
Trump, Vaccines and the Man Fueling the Controversy
Measles is a disease once thought eradicated, so why is it making a comeback? Andrew Wakefield is partly to blame -- and his connection to Donald Trump is interesting.