#383 Bad (Cancer) Math

$100 Billion + $100 Billion = 0

Today we’re going to talk about some bad math. Specifically, bad cancer math.

Here’s the short story: Two days before Christmas in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a War on Cancer. Since then, we have spent $100 billion on research. Today we spend over $100 billion on cancer medications each year.

And, as we discussed in our last +1, although we now know that 90 to 95% of all cancer diagnoses are preventable, one in two men (!) and one in three women (!) will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes.

The stats are shocking: In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people died from the disease.

To put that number in perspective: 17 kids were killed in the unimaginably horrific school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. As heart-wrenching as it is to even imagine the anguish of those families and that community, and as inspiring (!) as it is to see our next generation so boldly and powerfully leading the change we need to see in that domain, over 1,500 people (nearly 100 times as many people!!) are killed by cancer every single day — in the United States alone.

And (echo!) 90 to 95% (!!!) of all those cases are 100% preventable. (That’s crazy when you think about it…)


Despite the $100 billion (!) invested in research over the last forty-five years and the $100 billion (!) spent on treatment every year, the real death rates from cancer are basically the same as they were in the 1950s.

$100b + $100b = 0

That’s bad math.

And, it begs the questions: How is that possible? And what can we do about it?

Those are the central questions we’re going to explore in the next several +1s.

For now, just let that bad math sink in. Our approach, clearly, isn’t working.

It’s time to rethink cancer — both theory and therapy.

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