You mean it might have to do with something substantive, like clinical trial issues? Go figure:
Not long ago, at a meeting of an advisory group established by Congress to monitor the war on cancer, participants were asked how to speed progress.
“Everyone was talking about expanding the cancer work force and getting people to stop smoking,” said Dr. Scott Ramsey, a cancer researcher and health economist, who was participating in that January 2008 meeting of the President’s Cancer Panel. “Lots of murmurs of approval.”
Then it was his turn.
The biggest barrier, in his opinion, was that almost no adult cancer patients — just 3 percent — participate in studies of cancer treatments, mostly new drugs or drug regimens.
“To me it was obvious,” Dr. Ramsey said. “We can’t improve survival unless we test new treatments against established ones.”
The room fell silent.
“It was one of those embarrassing moments,” said Dr. Ramsey, an associate professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. He had brought up the subject he said no one wanted to touch.
Forty years after President Richard M. Nixon declared war on cancer, death rates have barely changed. “Why aren’t we getting cures?” Dr. Ramsey said. “This is one of the biggest reasons.”