It's 25 years and counting since President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act on Dec. 23, 1971, marking the United States' official declaration of war on cancer. The act provided funding to establish medical centers dedicated to clinical research and cancer treatment under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Yet, after an estimated $28 billion spent to find cures and better treatments for the dreaded disease, the war is far from over.

Most scientists note the tremendous strides made in treating -- and even curing -- some cancers -- particularly childhood leukemias and Hodgkin's disease. They point to new breakthroughs in understanding the molecular and genetic processes of the cancer cell. In addition, they note, patients now live longer and have a better quality of life. But critics invariably point to one inexorable fact: Cancer is on the rise and no abatement is in sight. The major...

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