Challenges remain. Take the case of prostate cancer, where the cells don’t center on one specific site or lesion. Instead, they spread like seeds throughout the gland, making immune system targeting difficult. Instead of a cure, most cancer researchers talk about better remission rates, as there is always the chance that the cancer may return. Since 1971, we’ve made great progress. 1.7 million deaths have been avoided between 1991 and 2012, according to the American Cancer Society. But many of these are due to the stamping out of smoking, and better screening for breast and prostate cancer. This scourge of humanity is likely to be with us for some time. But better ways of diagnosing and treating it are coming online, and more are about to be discovered. We may not cure cancer anytime soon. But we are making great progress in the fight against it.

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