Who Will Lead Us As We Turn The Tide Against Cancer?

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Who Will Lead Us As We Turn The Tide Against Cancer?

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Who Will Lead Us As We Turn The Tide Against #Cancer? from @DrLen http://3bl.me/3t3gb5
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 3:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Dr. Len's Cancer Blog


Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend and participate in a conference "Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation" in Washington DC. . The conference organizers brought together a stellar list of experts (present company excepted) to discuss the coming revolution in cancer care through personalized medicine, as well as the barriers and risks we face as science moves us forward towards what I consider a brave new world of cancer research and treatment.

With all of the intellect that was present at that meeting-and there was a lot-there was a theme that crystallized for me and others as the day progressed: we have developed incredible science and incredible opportunities to understand and treat cancer. But with all of the issues that have to be dealt with, the reality is that there is no singular leader-organization or individual-who has the clout and the heft to accelerate all the changes that need to happen if the vision of personalized medicine is going to be a success.


The progress we have made in the laboratory over the past 40 years has been truly incredible. As I have written previously, we have learned much about what makes a cancer cell a cancer cell. We have made the first steps in harnessing that knowledge to bring new treatments to our patients that are crafted to interfere with those internal cancer cell derangements, some having been more successful in meeting our expectations than others. We are moving into an era where traditional microscopic examination of cancer tissues will be relatively outmoded, and genomic analysis of cancers will be routine and become part of the decision-making process to guide us in choosing the best treatments for our patients.


All of this is true, and all of it is promising. But there remain many sobering realities that we have to face up to before we get to the promising land.


First and foremost, cancer is a complex disease with many ways to circumvent our discoveries and our treatments. Plug up something here, and something else pops up there. Again and again, cancer has dashed our hopes on the shoals of reality.


To move forward, we need to continue our research. But money is tight everywhere, and research budgets are being cut. It takes investigators a lifetime of work and discovery to lead us down new paths to success. But if we don't have the resources to fund our young investigators-and maintain our established research workforce-we will pay a significant penalty in years ahead.


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