CNN Food and Health

Cancer Conference Opens in Washington, D.C.

Aired Nov. 14, 1995
10:54 a.m. EST (1554 GMT)

Abstract : As a major conference on cancer opens, C. Everett Koop suggested research is nearing some crucial junctures, but Michael Milken warned we may be about to ``snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.''

Full Text:

LEON HARRIS, Anchor: The first national cancer summit is going on in Washington and CNN medical correspondent Andrew Holtz is at that gathering, and he joins us now with the latest. Andrew?

ANDREW HOLTZ, Medical News Correspondent: Well, Leon, what we've got here is four groups of prostate cancer, breast cancer, organizations gathering together, trying to get a new coalition, a new commitment going to the war on cancer. The people here, the folks searching for a cure for cancer got a lesson in the real world. They're not in an ivory tower here, because the government shutdown forced a last minute movement from the Dirkson Senate Building to the Grand Hotel in Washington. Then they had to pick up everyone, move here, but they're continuing on. The government shut down did not stop them, and so the-

C. EVERETT KOOP, Former Surgeon General: -We are far from where we wish to be, and each piece of shared information, each strategic advance in areas of research or medication or even legislation brings us closer to the eventual defeat of this complex set of diseases we call cancer. Twenty five years after the official declaration of war, we are still left with the chilling facts that one of every three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during lifetime, and that 1.2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in any given year.

ANDREW HOLTZ: And that was the moderator, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, whose helping introduce these things, talking about all the work that still lays ahead. But he did lay out that there have been some successes since 1971, when President Nixon at that time declared the war on cancer, and President Nixon said he thought it would take just about 10 years. Well, a quarter century later- as I say, there have been some successes- childhood leukemia survival rates are way up, other childhood tumors have been, survival rates have been improved, but there's a lot of work ahead.

One of the sponsors of this meeting is Michael Milken. He's well known as an investor. He's also a prostate cancer patient. Now he was diagnosed about two years ago, and has been treated for his prostate cancer. He formed an organization that's called CAP Cure, the Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate, and Milken sounded an alarm.

MICHAEL MILKEN, CAP CURE: Clearly we have not mobilized all possible resources to win the war on cancer. At the quarter century mark, we are in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, by becoming fatigued, unfocused, complacent, and having medical research become economically unattractive for for-profit companies.

ANDREW HOLTZ: Now, later in the day we'll be hearing from government representatives, academic researchers and representatives from the private sector, from bio-tech and pharmaceutical companies, all trying to work out a plan of action to move forward on the war against cancer. Leon?

LEON HARRIS: All right, Andrew Holtz, reporting live from the cancer summit in Washington. Donna?


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