Can­cer is be­ing beaten

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Set­ting the record straight on Can­cer Re­search (July 28)

Thank you to Steve Buist for set­ting the record straight. My im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion to Stephen Skyv­ing­ton’s com­men­tary en­ti­tled “War on can­cer, like the one on drugs, has failed us” on July 11 was anger and frus­tra­tion. His mes­sage was bi­ased and mis­in­formed. I fear his words were harm­ful to those most vul­ner­a­ble — can­cer pa­tients and their fam­i­lies. Since 1982, when I started my clin­i­cal and re­search ca­reer in Hamil­ton, I have been for­tu­nate to wit­ness many ad­vances in the di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of can­cer that have had sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on my pa­tients. These have all hap­pened as a re­sult of re­search. Some can­cer types which were pre­vi­ously fa­tal are now be­ing cured.

On the other hand, for many other can­cers there has been much progress made in con­trol­ling the can­cer for as long as pos­si­ble to max­i­mize a pa­tient’s qual­ity of life. Re­search is key to ad­vanc­ing the yard sticks in the fight against can­cer. Progress is in­cre­men­tal and, un­for­tu­nately, for many, painstak­ingly slow. The re­al­ity is that it takes time.

For those read­ers in­ter­ested in a fac­tual ac­count of the de­vel­op­ment of can­cer ther­a­pies since the 1960s, I highly rec­om­mend the Pulitzer Prize win­ning book “The Em­peror of All Mal­adies: A Bi­og­ra­phy of Can­cer,” by Sid­dhartha Mukher­jee. Mark Levine C.M. MD, Hamil­ton

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