Cancer Research and the $90 Billion Metaphor

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Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1540-1541
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6024.1540-a

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There never was an official "War on Cancer." That phrase from news reports and debates attached itself to the U.S. program that began when President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act in December 1971, which made big promises and gave the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) a token measure of independence. Since the 1971 act, NCI has spent about $90 billion on science, treatment, and prevention of cancer. Although the war metaphor has been a target for skeptics, who note that cancer incidence and mortality rates haven't changed fundamentally, if one sets aside the rhetoric, it's evident that the cancer campaign has changed therapy and saved lives, as demonstrated in this infographic Science has created of indicators for the seven deadliest cancers.