Cancer is understood as never before. This is one of the earliest outcomes of the research programme undertaken though the sequencing of the human genome. Despite the media attention earlier this century, there were no real breakthroughs that could provide a definitive milestone of success.
Imrpovements in cancer resarch are incremental and, perhaps, approximate some of the paradignatic shifts that Thomas Kuhn charted. It may not be a scientific revolution as socially defined but we now recognise the fundament of cancer: a set of cells reproducing out of control, the consequences of which are the eventual death of the host. The causes of cancer are manifold and, even worse, the groth of the tumour becomes a Darwinian competition between parasite and host. A moveable feast or target for the oncologist?
There are plenty of new and expensive treatments that could counteract cancers. More are being developed and as commonalities emerge within this disease complex, it may prove easier to combat. Just as there are no wonders out of the Human Genome Project, so there is no magic bullet that can cure cancer. The success remains illusive for public consumption: but we understand more, we manufacture better treatments and people survive for longer or are cured entirely.
This is a success story (of sorts)