This issue of The Scientist chronicles many promising areas of cancer research, comprising a wide range of approaches to the treatment and prevention of our second-leading cause of death. But before any of these disparate approaches can begin to affect the rate of cancer mortality, they must pass through the bottleneck of human clinical trials.

The pace of new ideas through the clinical trial process can seem maddeningly slow to patients and researchers alike. It takes far too long to get safe and effective new treatments to the general public, and it also takes far too long to back out of unsafe or ineffective blind alleys.

The result can be seen in a comparison of childhood and adult cancers, notes Andrea M. Denicoff, a clinical trials nurse specialist in the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Office of Clinical Research Promotion. "When you look at the number of children with cancer...

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