Curing the Cancer Crisis

Remedies needed: Better palliative care, patient-centered approach

Last week, the Institute of Medicine declared a crisis in the system for delivering care to the more than 1.6 million who contract cancer and the 500,000 people who die each year from the more than 100 forms of the disease.

It would be facile and wrong to suggest that the more than $100 billion spent by the government since President Nixon declared war on cancer was wasted. Better drugs, better regimens and better forms of radiation and surgery have taken the overall five-year cancer survival rate to 60% of patients compared to 40% a half century ago, although some of that improvement is an artifact of early detection.

Public health approaches to combating cancer have made enormous strides. While lung cancer is still the most prevalent form of the disease, its incidence is finally on the downswing because of the high-profile battle waged by public health authorities against smoking and Big Tobacco. The environmental movement's campaigns for cleaner air and water also played a role in reducing the incidence of many cancers.

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Source: Modern Healthcare