Fighting Cancer

January 22, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 4
Will new therapies and more money lead to cures?
By Barbara Mantel


Four-year-old Ella Annear (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)
Four-year-old Ella Annear, diagnosed with liver cancer last February, throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a playoff game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 2015. After an operation to remove tumors in April, followed by chemotherapy, doctors said Ella showed no evidence of cancer. President Obama said in his State of the Union address he wanted to make “America the country that cures cancer once and for all.” (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)

President Obama has joined a long line of political leaders and patients' advocates calling for a cure for cancer, the nation's second-leading cause of death. But scientists caution that cancer is not just one disease amenable to a single cure but rather more than 100 complex and related diseases, many of which have defied decades of experimental treatments. Congress recently increased federal cancer research funding by $264 million for this year, money scientists say is needed to build on promising treatments that boost the body's immune system or that target molecules on cancer cells. But many new cancer medicines cost more than $100,000 annually, sparking outrage in Congress and among doctors. Drug makers say their charges are necessary to pay for medical research. Meanwhile, some doctors caution against false hope because many of the new drugs don't work for long or treat only certain cancers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jan. 22, 2016  Fighting Cancer
Jan. 16, 2009  Preventing Cancer
Sep. 11, 1998  Cancer Treatments
Jun. 27, 1997  Breast Cancer
Aug. 25, 1995  Advances in Cancer Research
Jan. 29, 1982  New Cancer Treatments
Aug. 05, 1977  Strategies for Controlling Cancer
Aug. 16, 1974  Quest for Cancer Control
Mar. 24, 1967  Cancer Research Progress
May 12, 1951  Control of Cancer
Biology and Life Sciences
Medical Research and Advocacy