The War on Cancer Turns 50
mp3 | wav

cancer war

When President Nixon declared a war on cancer fifty years ago, it rivaled the moon landing. Since then and one hundred billion dollars later, cancer deaths have been cut by a quarter.

The five-year survival rate in many cancers have improved by an impressive thirty five percent. For breast cancer, ninety two percent of women survive at least five years. For melanoma it's gone from eighty-two to nearly ninety-six percent. In leukemia it's more than doubled from thirty to nearly seventy percent.

We see it in leading deadly cancers. In lung cancer which accounts for one fifth of cancers in the US, twenty-two percent of people make it five years up from eleven percent. And pancreatic cancer has improved five-fold to twelve percent. We can thank advances in early-stage detection for most of this progress. Better mammograms and endoscopies for colon screenings are examples.

And novel treatments have been developed through the National Institutes of Health with a budget of six point four billion dollars in two thousand twenty. One promising approach is harnessing our own immune system to destroy cancer.

In fact, several years ago, the Nobel Prize went to Drs. Jim Allison and Tasuku Honjo who discovered that they can use something called checkpoint inhibitors to unleash the immune system on cancer cells. Even chemotherapy is easier for patients to bear.

The goal isn't always to cure cancer but to turn it into a chronic disease that is managed over a lifetime.

For more information…

As the War on Cancer Turns 50, Earlier Diagnoses and Treatments Are Saving Lives
A half century since the National Cancer Act passed, understanding of the disease has deepened but challenges remain..

The War on Cancer at 50: The Origin Story Begins With a Socialite Citizen-Lobbyist
The roots of the National Cancer Act can be traced to a small home in Watertown, Wisconsin. In the early 1900s, a girl named Mary tagged along when her mother went to visit their laundress, Mrs. Belter, who had breast cancer...