The National Cancer Chemotherapy Program

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Science  13 Aug 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4560, pp. 600-606
DOI: 10.1126/science.7046055


The National Cancer Chemotherapy Program was initiated in 1955. It is administered and integrated by the Division of Cancer Treatment at the National Cancer Institute. The program involves the discovery and development of potential new antitumor agents; their screening in preclinical experimental systems for antitumor effect, and, if active, for toxicology; and, for selected agents, preliminary, and more definitive clinical trials. While serendipity and empiricism played a substantial role in the early years of the program, the program has increasingly emphasized and been influenced by advances in tumor biology, drug development, clinical pharmacology, and the science of clinical trials. There has been effective interaction between investigator-initiated research on the one hand and developmental research at preclinical and clinical levels on the other. Over 30 chemotherapeutic agents with substantial clinical antitumor activity have been discovered, and their proper use, often in combination and often integrated with surgery or radiotherapy, has resulted in significant progress in the effective treatment of many forms of cancer.