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Linda Wertheimer on the cancer war

May 2, 2001 -- In 1971, President Richard Nixon pledged $100 million for research aimed at finding a cure for cancer. As All Things Considered marks its own 30th anniversary with reports on other 30-year-old phenomena, host Linda Wertheimer examines the war on cancer, and its three decades of gains and setbacks.

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Wertheimer’s special report chronicles the cancer war through five veteran doctors and their patients. They include an interview with Dr. Anna Meadows, a pediatric oncologist in Philadelphia, who has witnessed what many consider the cancer war’s greatest victory -- a cure for the most common kind of childhood leukemia.

Linda also speaks with Drs. Harold Varmus, Richard Klausner and George Canellos, pioneers of cancer research. They reflect on the successes and failures in their search for a cure, and discuss new kinds of treatment on the horizon. Given recent discoveries about the genetic origins of cancer, they foresee a future when cancer is treated much as bacterial infection is now, with tailor-made drugs that could manage and contain it.

This special report also includes an interview with Dr. Judah Folkman, a visionary Boston researcher. He spent the past three decades exploring how cancer cells recruit their own blood supply to grow into tumors. His theory, called angiogenesis, was dismissed for years by the scientific community but is now widely accepted. Now Folkman's goal is to find the switch that turns the tumor on and makes it recruit a blood supply; then figure out how to turn that switch off, rendering cancer cells much less dangerous.

For more information:

National Cancer Institute --
(The NCI has produced its own “useful links” page --

American Cancer Society (ACS) --

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia --

Children's Hospital Boston --

Dana Farber Cancer Institute --

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center --

Read Linda Wertheimer's bio.