In a therapeutically oriented medical climate, a highly unacceptable fact that is rarely considered yet indisputable is that with rare exceptions of some highly contagious infections, there is no evidence that the incidence of any disease was ever reduced by treatment. Infective disease was conquered by reduction in exposure to infective agents by improved hygiene and protection against infective agents by immunization and improved nutrition. Improved therapy did much to reduce mortality but not to reduce incidence.1 The inability of therapy to reduce incidence of disease applies totally in the realm of noninfective disease, and particularly with regard to cancer.
However, the vast majority of effort and facilities devoted to cancer research is directed to advances in treatment, with the second priority given to screening programs attempting earlier diagnosis. Is there any evidence that the incidence of any form of cancer has ever been reduced by improved treatment or
Burkitt D. An Approach to the Reduction of the Most Common Western Cancers: The Failure of Therapy to Reduce Disease. Arch Surg. 1991;126(3):345–347. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1991.01410270089014
Browse and subscribe to JAMA Network podcasts!
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: