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The ‘Complete’ Cancer Cure Story Is Both Bogus and Tragic


lymphocytes and a cancer cell at 1000x magnification
An Israeli company claimed it will cure cancer in a year, and the internet erupted. But in this latest viral incident, everyone loses.STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

IS THERE ANY more tantalizing headline than “Scientists Discover a Cure for Cancer”? Some version of this fantastical claim has been dropped into the news cycle with the regularity of a super blood wolf moon for the better part of a century. In 1998, James Watson told The New York Times that a cancer cure would arrive by Y2KThis magazine hasn’t been immune either, running an “End of Cancer” headline a few years later. Each instance stirs up hope for patients and their families desperate to find a solution, no matter the risk or cost. And yet, here we are in 2019, with that constellation of complex, diverse diseases we lump together and call “cancer” for convenience's sake still killing one in eight men and one in 11 women, according to the World Health Organization’s latest stats.

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