Revised 28 April 2021
It’s time to implement a strategic plan to cure cancer.
The era of modern cancer treatment began in 1948, when Dr. Sidney Farber, a Boston pathologist, published a landmark study reporting that chemotherapy could induce temporary remissions in childhood leukemia (Farber 1948, free full text-PDF download). Remarkably, this study was met not with hope and acclaim, but with skepticism and outrage (Miller 2006).
In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon announced the beginning of the “war on cancer” in the United States (see President Nixon’s 1971 State of the Union at 15:03):
I will also ask for an appropriation of an extra $100 million to launch an intensive campaign to find a cure for cancer, and I will ask later for whatever additional funds can effectively be used. The time has come in America when the same kind of concentrated effort that split the atom and took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dreaded disease. Let us make a total national commitment to achieve this goal.
Yet 50 years later, cancer is still the #2 cause of death in the United States (after heart disease), causing a projected 608,570 deaths in 2021 (Cancer Facts & Figures 2021-PDF download). In high income countries as a group, cancer is the #1 cause of death (Dagenais 2020).
Total US cancer deaths have only recently started to plateau, but still at a very high level (references):
Although US cancer death rates by population have been declining since 1990 (due primarily to reductions in smoking),
and age adjusted cancer death rates by population since have been declining for many types of cancer,
this disease is still a major killer of Americans (Cancer Facts & Figures 2021-PDF download).
If we want dramatic reductions in cancer death rates, we need to use much more of our brainpower and talent to focus on the big picture and not just individual cancer studies.
We need a strategic plan that assesses what we know and what we need to know. This is a risky enterprise. Much of this strategic plan is “informed guesswork” that will fail, at least in part. But success comes from persistence and from learning from our mistakes. We have cured childhood leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer and other childhood tumors (Siegel 2021), but this occurred not with a “silver bullet” or a magical drug, but through rigorous scientific investigation and extensive use of clinical trials to make slow progress over the years (Emperor Of All Maladies, 2011).
Sadly, no national institution has developed a strategic plan to cure cancer. The National Cancer Institute does strategic planning, but to my knowledge has no plan with curative targets. Neither does the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association or any other institution or organization.
Let’s cure cancer together.
We have developed a plan. It needs a lot of work, but is a start (see Strategic Plan to Cure Cancer). We will update it regularly.
How can you help?
* Join our Curing Cancer Network, which has monthly E-blasts about our efforts and related efforts by others; click here.
* Read our American Code Against Cancer and pledge to do all you can to prevent becoming a cancer statistic.
* If you are a scientist or physician, review our plan and give me your feedback at Nat@PathologyOutlines.com.
* For other ways to help, click here.
Let’s get to work.