WASHINGTON--The original 'war on cancer' was declared by the President
of the United States in 1971, and a cure was promised within 10
years. In that same year, Texas Instruments was developing the
first pocket calculator and Intel had just introduced the microchip,
said financier Michael R. Milken at the National Cancer Summit.
The meeting was sponsored by the Association for the Cure of Cancer
of the Prostate (CaP CURE, see box on page 20), which Mr. Milken
founded, and by other leading cancer organizations.
Today, 25 years later, "Powerbooks have made those first
TI calculators seem like relics, and silicon chips drive everything
from microwave ovens to missiles. Yet victory in the war against
cancer still eludes us," said Mr. Milken, chairman of CaP
CURE. He believes it is time to re-think and re-declare the war
on cancer, to move from "a war of attrition to a new plan
Mr. Milken, a prostate cancer survivor, called cancer a worldwide
problem, requiring a sustained and committed international mobilization
of resources. "The United States has both successfully led
and participated in previous international mobilizations,"
he said, citing the 1991 Gulf War effort.
In his talk, Mr. Milken suggested 10 "road signs" to
follow in re-thinking the war on cancer:
1. Internationalize the war on cancer by encouraging other
wealthy nations, such as Japan and Saudi Arabia, to invest heavily
in cancer research. At present, he said, Japan, with the world's
second largest economy, plans to spend only $543 million on cancer
research over 10 years, less than 3% of the United States' estimated
2. Show large corporations how investing in medical research
and preventive health measures can save them money. "Currently,
cancer is costing the nation more than $100 billion a year in
direct and indirect health-care costs that can be reduced only
through cancer prevention, early detection, and discovery of a
cure," he said.
3. Recruit and fund a world-class scientific cancer team.
At present, he said, fewer than 10% of the world's leading chemists,
biologists, and other scientists work in the field of cancer.