Death of Cancer

Death of Cancer

A critical mass of medical knowledge could soon end the death threat of cancer, but politics stands in the way

Aeon, 2016

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


For decades, battles have been fought in the war on cancer. Soon, the war could and should be over. Vincent DeVita is a pioneer oncologist and former director of the National Cancer Institute. Writing with his journalist daughter Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, he explains in plain language the “hallmarks” of cancer cells and outlines what kind of cancer research would be necessary – if only government laws allowed it. getAbstract recommends this expert yet accessible article to cancer patients and would like to put this plea for a new cancer act into the hands of those in charge.


In the past, cancer was a taboo subject, a dead-end medical research field and lethal enemy. Since 1971, when former US president Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, cancer awareness has increased. Research has generated more sophisticated methods and technologies for curing cancer and enhancing the comfort of cancer patients. Three major breakthroughs have led to significant declines in cancer mortality: First, realizing that a mix of drugs could heal advanced cancer produced effective chemotherapy. Second, researchers developed targeted therapy – that is, drugs...

About the Authors

Vincent DeVita is a professor at Yale and the former director of the National Cancer Institute. His daughter Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn is a science journalist.

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