UT lecture series to examine the 41-year-old "War on Cancer"


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE


Posted on November 27, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 27 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Exactly where are we in the war against cancer?  Forty-one years after a national war was declared on the disease, the Hot Science, Cool Talks lecture series this Friday on the University of Texas campus will let us know what significant advancements have been made and may be just ahead, and also what may be impeding the process.

Former President Richard Nixon declared the War on Cancer in 1971. Doctor Mark Clanton is the American Cancer Society chief medical officer for the High Plains Division, which is made up of six states including Texas. He says the declaration seemed like a good idea back then.

"At that time we probably didn't know that there were 30 or 40 different cancers," said Clanton. "That meant that a single cure for all cancers was never a realistic expectation. With that said, there are cancers that were relatively incurable 40 years ago which can be discovered early and treated effectively with treatments that didn't exist then. So (there's been) progress absolutely.  

Clanton says one of the problems with cancer research is that progress is not readily apparent.

"It takes on average 15 to 20 years after something is discovered and maybe has made it through the FDA, into the market and into the hands of physicians and nurses before it becomes a standard practice," said Clanton. "That's a long time!"  

Clanton says among the good news he'll share during his lecture are the new advancements, such as nanotechnology, which could significantly impact cancer treatments for the better in the not-too-distant future.

"(When it comes to cancer) most people die as a result of metastasis," he said. "That's when a cancer starts in one part of the body and goes to another part of the body and disrupts the heart, the liver or the kidneys. If you can stop metastasis all together you can actually stop cancer and convert it into a disease we can live with. Well, there a couple of technologies that are in laboratories today that can do that."

Friday's Hot Science, Cool Talks lecture series is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.

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