Medicine: Cancer: Up or Down?

At the American Cancer Society's annual meeting in Manhattan last week, Statistician E. Cuyler Hammond posed a question: "Are we batting our heads against a stone wall—an insurmountable barrier?" On the basis of crude figures he reported: "We are faced with a frustrating fact. Ten short years ago, 177,000 Americans died of cancer. This year it is estimated that 243,000 Americans will die of this disease."

Statistician Hammond (TIME, June 13) was quick to point out that a lot of cancer figures can be misleading. Up to 1930, some of the apparent increase was due to improvements in diagnosis and in the...

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