“Misguided Cancer Goal.” Editorial, Nature

An influential US advocacy group has set a deadline to beat breast cancer by 2020. But it puts public trust at risk by promising an objective that science cannot yet deliver. Hope is not a good strategy, in life or in disease research. So the setting of goals, and the drive to reach them, is to be commended, and cancer is no exception. But a 2020 deadline for ‘ending’ breast cancer that former US President Bill Clinton endorsed earlier this month is misguided. Like other ‘beat cancer’ deadlines that are regularly floated, it is potentially harmful to the public trust that underpins the whole research enterprise, not to mention to the patients who understandably cling to hope, whatever its validity.

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