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April 1986

Treatment Failure: The Importance of Context in Treating Head and Neck Cancer-Reply

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1986;112(4):454. doi:10.1001/archotol.1986.03780040094021

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In Reply.—Your letter strikes the nail squarely on the head. Cancer is the sequella of a disease called tobaccoism. That disease is more lethal than its more well-known sibling, alcoholism.

As a society we have focused our attention and our resources on the end-stage disease of cancer, and we have scarcely begun to address the larger societal problem of tobaccoism in an effective, coordinated, all-out manner. What is needed is a war on tobaccoism, not a war on cancer.

During World War II, the death of 6 million persons was immortalized as a holocaust. At the rate of 1,000 victims per day, the equivalent tobacco holocaust will require only 16 years to eliminate 6 million victims.

What will it take to awaken us to the point of declaring war on the Number 1 Health Care Problem in the United States?

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