To Our Readers: May 18, 1998

Last week's cascade of stories about drugs that can knock out cancer in mice sent patient hopes (and stock prices) soaring. But it also presented the type of challenge that is particularly important in covering potential medical breakthroughs, especially ones in which "cure" and "cancer" appear in the same sentence. "We were seeing a disturbing disconnect between the headlines and the actual science," says science editor Philip Elmer-DeWitt, whose staff was already reporting a cover on cancer. "We thought we could separate the hope from the hype with some expert explaining."

The job of assessing the drugs that made last week's...

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