In spite of a gazillion dollars spent on cancer research over the past 50 years, overall cancer deaths really haven’t changed much.
Look at this chart from John Horgan on the Scientific American blog network:
In fact, there’s good evidence that whatever decline you see on that chart is really caused by a decline in smoking — which is far and away the most well-understood way to avoid cancer.
Skeptical Inquirer gives these six reasons for the failure:
I would add a seventh: we’re looking in the wrong places. Evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald has of the most intriguing ideas I’ve heard in years: cancer is an infectious disease. Once you start thinking about this, it’s hard to stop. Here’s hoping more people start to research this so we can finally have a serious breakthrough in the death rates.