The New York Times reported last June that a "Neanderthal who lived more than 120,000 years ago had a tumor in a bone, the earliest of its kind in the human fossil record, a new study reports." "What plagued him then still plagues us today," noted a writer for the New Yorker.
You'd think that the people of today would have an advantage, given the estimated $16 billion spent annually on cancer research. But the cancer-fighting apparatus of the 21st century has failed to live up to declarations of war on cancer from the White House or to make the kind of dramatic advances that generations of Americans have hoped for.
One author and cancer survivor is saying that money isn't helping cure these deadly diseases. He argues that scientists spend too much of their time thinking about and securing grants for research — instead of carrying out the research itself.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER:
More Money Won't Win the War on Cancer
"If you are a midcareer investigator," explained Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, "you spend up to half of your time trying to get funding. And that's a real problem." It makes sense for businesses and non-profits to invest significant amounts of time in funding. But academic cancer research is about fighting a disease, not turning a profit or sustaining a charitable mission. We would never, for instance, expect a fire or police department to spend half its time pitching the government for funding — just to keep its doors open. (The Atlantic)
• Where Do the Millions of Cancer Research Dollars Go Every Year?
As a result of the billions put into cancer research, we do know a lot about what causes cancer, how cancers grow, and how cancers spread. We have ideas about how to stop cancer. But the process of translating laboratory advances into the clinic has been agonizingly slow. This because cancer isn't one disease, but a general term for many diseases that have some things in common and many things that vary from one type of cancer to another. (Slate.com)
Can Wall Street help cure cancer?
These days, academics such as [Andrew] Lo are in deep dismay about the lack of progress in beating cancer. For though there have been numerous exciting medical breakthroughs in recent years, he argues that these have not been turning into effective treatments at an equally impressive rate because companies (and shareholders) are unwilling to fund speculative long-term research. (FT Magazine)
World War Cancer
Outrage over our paltry victories against cancer informs the forthcoming book, "The Truth in Small Doses: Why We're Losing the War on Cancer--and How to Win It," by Clifton Leaf, who wrote a much-discussed essay on the same topic for Fortune in 2004. The title comes from a 1959 pamphlet that tells doctors to trickle out information to cancer-stricken patients, since most of them "couldn't stand" to know the truth: the disease would kill them and there was little that could be done about it. Today, draped in ribbons of every hue, blinded by the promises of targeted therapies and antioxidants, we have, according to Leaf, neglected a basic truth: "'the cancer problem' is, in reality, as formidable a challenge as ever." (The New Yorker)