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April 8, 1992

Battles Against Many Malignancies Lie Ahead as Federal 'War on Cancer' Enters Third Decade

JAMA. 1992;267(14):1891. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480140013004

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THE WAR on cancer—declared December 23, 1971, when then President Richard M. Nixon signed the National Cancer Act—now is in its third decade.

Some of those involved say the United States is winning this so-called war. By some estimates, the federal government has spent as much as $22 billion on this effort in the past 20 years.

Win, Lose, or Draw?  However, some critics contend that this war is being lost. They argue that too little change is being seen in death rates from many major cancers (defined in terms of incidence and/or deaths attributable), although one of the candidates in this year's presidential race is a 9-year survivor of lymphoma.Still others take the view that there indeed has been progress against some cancers but less against others. Probably one of the few aspects that can be agreed upon is that it is difficult to make year-to-year comparisons because