A Retro Report and a medical writer reflect on the grand hopes and stuttering progress of Richard Nixon’s “war on cancer.”
This New York Times report looks at the “war on cancer” since its commencement in 1971, and after $100 million of spending by the U.S. government on research. It is clear that the war has not been won.
Drops in some cancer rates were mostly attributable not to cancer breakthroughs but to preventative strategies such as not smoking cigarettes; menopausal women not undertaking hormone therapy; and early detection testing.
Drugs are emerging that attack various mutated genes in cancer cells. However cancers almost inevitably grow resistant to a drug that attacks a crucial mutation. The new drugs are incredibly expensive, but rarely are cures.
Other drugs focused on immunotherapies, allowing the immune system to stop the cancer, are beginning to show promise and may have an advantage over drugs that attack mutated genes.
It is clear there is still a long way to go towards winning the “war on cancer”. One cannot help wonder why there isn’t much more funding to research things that have been shown anecdotally to cure cancer. Such research may not result in patentable medicines. However it is possible that it may result in an improved cure rate.
I have been researching cancer for the past twenty years, and now on a daily basis I am likely to see everything written about cancer. During that time there have been many people cured from cancer anecdotally without the use of patentable drugs or expensive invasive procedures. Typically when asked about these cases a standard response from medical professionals is that “there has been no research that supports the effectiveness of these apparent cures”. People reading that response will automatically assume that the research has been done. However in most cases there has been no research done at all. It does seem that research money is not available unless the outcome of the research includes something patentable and therefore profit-making.
Meanwhile from what I read there seems to be many people undergoing self-treatment, and practitioners throughout the world who are treating patients for cancer in all its stages and forms using various non-conventional methods, and who seem to have a higher cure rate than the conventional medical approach. I am no expert and do not say it is all valid and correct. But it perhaps needs more focus and research if the right group of people or organization can be found and funded to be sufficiently objective to do so without seeking a financial reward at the end of the rainbow. Maybe the first step is to define and agree what percentage of government funding towards the “war on cancer” should be allocated towards such research. The results after more than 40 years and $100 million would seem to indicate a need for this approach.