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March 17, 2010

Progress in the War on Cancer

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Epidemiology Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia.

JAMA. 2010;303(11):1084-1085. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.284

It has been almost 40 years since President Nixon proposed, in his 1971 State of the Union address, to “ . . . launch an intensive campaign to find a cure for cancer. . . . ”1 The National Cancer Act, signed into law in December of the same year, broadened the scope and responsibilities of the National Cancer Institute, which had existed on a much smaller scale since 1937.2 The National Cancer Act also vastly increased federal funding “in order to more effectively carry out the national effort against cancer.”2 Since 1971, the so-called war on cancer has consumed more than 100 billion federal research dollars, when allocations from all US agencies from 1970 to the present are combined.3 These funds have been more than matched by research investments from pharmaceutical companies, nongovernmental organizations, and states. However, the total spending on cancer research is dwarfed by the medical and social costs resulting from the more than 100 diseases that are collectively called cancer.

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