Why Were Losing The War On Cancer
The War on Cancer; A Comprehensive Reiteration and Nuance into a Resolution
Summary: Author Clinton Leaf discusses the validity of the argument that as a nation we are losing the war on cancer. Leaf lives as a survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, an informed crusader and valuable entity into guiding the battle into a new direction. Leaf explains that the true purpose that the war on cancer was brought about by Nixon in 1971, and has been seriously diluted by the need for a “here and now” cure. Leaf also explains that billions of dollars of federal and state funding are used on near pointless experiments and trials including the myriad of clinical trials for drugs using mice. Leaf proves his point by showing that results in shrinking tumors does not mean that cell mutation is stifled. He also points out that the drugs being developed are geared less towards the processes of curing but more towards trying to understand the complexity of cancer. Granted they go hand in hand but he gives a laundry list of instances of past successes in different fields of research where not everything is understood. And in the finality of his article he gives a “surefire” and intelligent line of attack to go about changing the outcome. Clifton explains that instead of enforcing the countless legality that makes it difficult for researchers to succeed, but for the government to instead work coherently, cooperatively and as a group with researchers. He also states in the final paragraph that the war on cancer needs encouragement not only for the patients, but to those who are fighting to find a cure.
Reaction: To say that Clinton Leaf is bold is an understatement. He names different administrations as the culprit for blocking progress into finding more effective ways to treat cancer. It can be shown that he pursued information, gave countless interviews, researched heavily and was willing to delve into the darker side of why this war has been thwarted by the very ones funding it. Leaf is not only credible, but intelligent enough to show those who are not informed why exactly this is moving at such a snail like pace. What makes Leaf’s article so different is that he is no M.D, no genetics physiologist, and has no degree in the area of cell anatomy. This gives an insight into someone who is breathing today because of medical advancements in Hodgkin’s disease. This would seem ascenine that a survivor would downsize and critique what allowed him to carry on with his life. When he wrote the article he had keen and optimistic results into what may happen in the future once the wool is taken from the eyes of those who deny valid approaches to a cure. Also, his purpose was to show that heart disease will fall second to cancers in annual deaths in less than a decade if nothing is done to further research. America and the entire world in general have been able to recognize a problem and make monumental gains in a solution. We would think that over the past thirty seven years that we are close to stopping cancer cell mutations. This statement could not be any farther from the truth because as a society we idolize quick fixes. As Americans we demand to see the billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money reap a quick and acceptable solution. Leaf shows that because we think this way that we are not paying attention to the big picture that as long as the NCI is expected speedy results we will and cannot win the war on cancer. Leaf also reveals that instead of being patient the FDA approves dozens of drugs that have little efficacy and only shrink tumors. Cancerous tumors can often times be treated effectively if caught in early stages but patients with metastasis (cancer that has spread) have a dramatically reduced chance of living. Clinton’s facts show the reader that in spite of over 14.4 billion dollars of annual funding that because of the independency of research facilities we developed few drugs most of which can be adapted to by mutated cancer cells.
In the early stages of the war the federal funding was accepted gladly by researchers and scientists but they asked to have little guidance and control from the government. This has proved to be a fatal mistake; because instead of the brightest and most intuitive ideas being embraced the same companies drag on a redundant and trodden path of self- glorifying arrogance that has cost us countless lives. It is a fact that just within the past 33 years we have lost more lives to cancer then to all the wars of the world combined, and on average one to three people will develop cancer. This is tragic, but instead of genuine breakthroughs NCI, NIH and the FDA concentrate only on tweaks to current treatments and drugs we have as of now. Leaf validates the theory of Sidney Farber that we need a “…massive coordinated assault” and that we “… cannot wait for full understanding”. Those statements were made in 1971 and have since proven to be true. While a cure is valid and would be esteemed; prevention would allow for fewer deaths and better insight into development of treatment. The quote “ People obsessed with cures, cures, cures are being I hate to use the word- selfish by ignoring what could be done in terms of prevention” is a monumental point that Leaf successfully stressed in the article. Leaf’s purpose is not to minimize the advancements of technology just the failure to redirect energy into more viable ways to solve such a remarkable daily death toll. The idea of prevention is scoffed at because some tell- tale signs are ignored and the patient is marked as healthy. We’ve developed drugs such as Avastin which constrict the flow of blood and nutrients to the tumor and have been moderately successful in prevention. Though there may be advancements in prevention the collective good is not just treatment for prevention but proper diagnosis. Leaf allows us to see that when there is a hopeful advancement in the field of research there is battle for rights and that because of the struggle the production or advancement is halted. And because of the treatment of drugs with terminally ill patients the failure is noted and the drugs efficacy is minimized and normally the research stops. This is not only wasteful, Leaf says, but harmful to the greater good because those drugs may very well work on earlier stages of cancer not necessarily metastasis. Clinton also suggests that only because these drugs may not work on mice does not mean that it cannot work on humans. Leaf’s witty and revealing arguments only prove the point that one does not need a doctorate degree to see that we will continue on a desolate path. That is until common ground is reached and the goals for prevention, treatments and cures are the same for all. We will only be able to further solutions to a point that is without cooperation. Leaf finalizes his argument by concluding that NCI needs to administer cancer research, all researchers must stop working as individuals, and in turn the FDA will follow suit in the newly strengthened crusade against cancer. It can be clearly seen that Clinton Leaf is informed, concerned and valuable to showing crucial information about pompous and error- ridden ideals to the public. All in all the entire article was sharp, informative, shocking, and well written and just a tremendous illustration of the current situation of the cancer epidemic. Clinton Leaf should be commended for such an article, and it will change the way the reader views cancer permanently.
Fortune Magazine 2004: Why were Losing the War on Cancer [And How to Win it] Clinton Leaf