Report from the Cancer Battlefield, 50 Years Later
In 2021—five decades after President Richard Nixon declared a War on Cancer—some 1.9 million new cancer cases were diagnosed and the scourge killed more than 600,000 Americans. Yet we have made extraordinary progress on the battlefront in the same time frame. Childhood leukemia can often be cured, death rates for colorectal, cervical, and prostate cancer have fallen by half, and treatment advances have rerouted the course of breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma. The recognition that cancer is not a single disease, but thousands of discrete diseases, and the ability to map cell signaling pathways and tumor mutations, are driving life-extending gene therapies, immunotherapies, and other targeted therapeutics forward. How hopeful should we be?