Topics » Health   Dec. 22, 2011

If It's Not a War on Cancer, What Is It?

A Multi-Fronted War?

7 of 7

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

A Wildfire?A Tide?A Fight for Peace?Our Moonshot Moment?A Battle With Love?A Team Sport?A Multi-Fronted War?

A Multi-Fronted War?

Dr. Bert Vogelstein, director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics & Therapeutics at Johns Hopkins University: "I actually don't think the problem is with the metaphor. The metaphor is a double entendre: It signifies that researchers are fighting against the diseases. And more subtly, it can be used to describe what goes on between cancer cells and the drugs we throw at them. That is definitely a war and the cancer cells generally win (or collateral damage kills the patient along with the cancer). In my view, the problem with the metaphor is that it is in the singular rather than the plural. Each cancer type is different. From modern genomic sequencing, we now know the landscape of each cancer in any individual patient, and these landscapes are unique. This new knowledge also has helped spur the concept of 'personalized cancer therapy.' So our fight against cancers, with the emphasis on the 's' at the end, is one key to the public's understanding of the nature of the diseases and current research on them."

Photo Essay

Photo Essay