• Question: Will we ever cure cancer?

    Asked by Sharlie.K to Sebastian, Lee, Jennifer, Eleanor, Paddy, Fiona on 8 Mar 2019. This question was also asked by Carina, Micha.
    • Photo: Sebastian Cosgrove

      Sebastian Cosgrove answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      That is a very complex question, because cancer isn’t just one thing really. Every type of cancer is different to the next one, and each type can affect people in a different way as well. We are getting a lot better at treating cancer now, as for the first time in history more people now survive it then don’t! We are developing many different ways to treat it, and as time goes on these methods will get even better and more people will survive. But to imagine that there will be a one-pill cures all is not realistic.

    • Photo: Jennifer Harris

      Jennifer Harris answered on 8 Mar 2019:

      As Sebastian says, cancer isn’t a single disease, so I doubt we’ll ever be able to cure all cancers.

    • Photo: Fiona Scott

      Fiona Scott answered on 12 Mar 2019:

      Echoing a lot of what’s been said by my colleagues, we are getting better at curing cancers. I’ve been cured of thyroid cancer. But the word cancer is often used wrongly to describe a single disease. The word describes hundreds of different diseases that all have uncontrollable cell growth in common. But as has been said, our understanding of those cancers is increasing and we are getting better at treating individual cancers.
      Unfortunately it is in cancers nature to continue mutating so even if a cancer drug kills 99.999% of a tumour, that one cell that survives can potentially grow into a secondary tumour which then needs a whole other set of drugs to kill it. I have a friend who works in a hospital in Boston who works to predict how certain types of cancer mutate next and what drugs we can have lined up to treat those cancers.
      It is possible we haven’t made a discovery or developed a technology yet that would lead to a single cancer but the more we learn about cancer, the more we learn about how complex it is. Cancer research uk say 1 in 2 of us will get cancer but 3 in 4 of us will survive which is a lot more than it used to be.