Microscope in the Laboratory, modern close-up shot

For nearly 45 years, the national dialogue, when it comes to cancers, has remained essentially the same. We have been racing for the cure, praying for the cure, searching for the cure, researching for the cure, raising money for the cure, funding the cure, and developing treatments for the cure. Curing cancer has become the ?national cancer objective?. In the recent State of the Union address, President Obama announced a renewed national effort towards finding ?a cure? for cancer. Each year, there are approximately 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses in the U.S., so finding a cure for cancer certainly sounds like a noble objective. [1]


Some would argue that our national cancer objective, has become our national cancer obsession, diverting resources away from the development of alternative technologies that may be more effective in reducing cancer related deaths…


However, with all of the time, money, and effort that has been spent in search of a cure, the number of overall cancer deaths has continued to increase. This year, 8 million people worldwide [2] will die from cancer related illnesses, including 600,000 people in the United States. [1] Some would argue that our national cancer objective, has become our national cancer obsession, diverting resources away from the development of alternative technologies that may be more effective in reducing cancer related deaths. In essence, we may have been blinded by our own ambition of curing advanced cancers. New technological advances are on the way that will result in a paradigm shift in how we think about and approach cancers. The time has come to take the blinders off and to change the national cancer dialogue.

National Cancer Act
To fully understand how our obsession with curing advanced cancers got started, we need to go back to 1971 and the signing of the The National Cancer Act (P.L. 92?218). That bill officially started what is commonly referred to as the ?war against cancer.? Two and one half billion dollars was allocated towards what President Nixon described as ?a total national commitment towards the conquest of cancer? with a stated goal of ?finding a cure.? [3] Somewhat ironically, the President marked the occasion by predicting that the signing of the National Cancer Act may be remembered in history as the most significant action taken by his administration. Regardless, the national cancer objective was born. Forty-five years later, the U. S. government alone has spent more than $100 billion funding cancer research in both the public and private sectors. Though we are nowhere close to a comprehensive understanding of cancers, such government spending has been tremendously beneficial, providing funding for basic cancer research which is the foundation for new cancer treatments.


This article was first published in ADC Review / Journal of Antibody-drug Conjugates on March 1, 2016. To read to full article, go to ADC Review / Journal of Antibody-drug Conjugates

Contributing Editors: Amit Kumar, Ph.D and Robert Berman

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Last editorial review: March 1, 2016.

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