Posted by Winnie Melda on December 21st, 2018


The war on cancer is a dismal failure as not only are more people dying of cancer than in the past, but more people are getting cancer at their early stages of life than ever before. In his 1971 State of Union address, President Nixon and Congress declared war on cancer that began an extensive campaign to discover a cure for cancer. However, the war on cancer has not made similar strides compared to other areas of medicine.  The century was marked by the discovery of vaccines to curb viruses as well as the discovery of antibiotics to cure infections. Similarly, the war on cancer would be no more difficult. This paper discusses why the war on cancer has been a failure.

War on cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States as well as a major public health problem worldwide. The federal government has spent billions of dollars in the effort to fight cancer.  However, not much has been gained from that huge investment.  A large percentage o f the money has been spent towards research and treatment. Additionally, there is a large number of nonprofit organizations in the United States dedicated to cancer compared to the number established for Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, heart disease and stroke combined.  As a result, there is extensive knowledge about the disease than before, but we are not much closer to winning the war.

According to National Cancer Institute, the number of individuals likely to be diagnosed with cancer in the United States was 1,685,210 while 595,690 people were projected to die from the disease. The Institute notes that the death rates for many cancer types have declined, but rates for a few cancers increased or stabilized (National Cancer Institute, 2015).  According to American Cancer Society, from 2003 to 2012, breast cancer incidence rates increased slightly by 0.3% annually in black women while the rates were stable in white women resulting in the convergence of rates. Since 1975, Childhood cancer incidence rates have increased by 0.6% annually: Exceeded only by accidents, Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children between ages 1-14 (American Cancer Society, 2016).  Meanwhile, cancer rates are rising. An upward trend is particularly evident in liver, kidney and thyroid cancer and in lymphoma and melanoma. Since 1975, United States has experienced a steady increase in brain cancer and childhood leukemia.  This trend is alarming particularly because waged war on cancer has been costly, long and drawn-out with no end in sight (Siegel et al., 2016).

Cancer’s role in many deaths in the United States remains a haunting statistic.  When it comes to curing cancer, there is holding pattern. Cancer treatments rely on chemotherapy, surgery and radiation and other anticancer drugs.  There has not been much improvement from what was done 40 years ago.  The war on cancer has been stuck in a paradigm of treatment. What’s more, the treatments do not seem to be working.  With the “war on cancer,” there is no expectation of ultimate victory.  Living with cancer is the “new normal.”  Symptoms are kept under control through drugs, radiotherapy, and other modalities. Simply put, there has not been an adequate channel of energy, scientific know-how, and funding into a full exploration of one path certain to save lives: prevention or cure.  Management rather than prevention and cure have become the ultimate goal of cancer research.


American Cancer Society (2016) Cancer Facts and Figures. Retrieved from

National Cancer Institute (2015) Cancer Statistics. 

Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., & Jemal, A. (2016). Cancer statistics, 2016. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 66(1), 7-30. 

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in nursing essay help USA if you need a similar paper you can place your order from custom college papers.

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Winnie Melda

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Winnie Melda
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