This entry is part 4 of 23 in the series Science Surgery
Our Science Surgery series answers your cancer science questions.
If you have a question that you’d like us to answer, send it to us using the email address at the bottom of this post.
Jonny, on Twitter, asked: “I read a cure for cancer will never be found so more time should be researched into controlling it instead. How true is this?”
A cure for cancer is understandably at the top of many people’s wish lists, and whether one will ever be found is something we’re often asked.
Answering this question isn’t a simple case of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, because it depends on the way that the term ‘cancer’ is defined. The word ‘cancer’ is singular, but it reflects more than just one disease. It should actually be viewed as an umbrella term for a collection of hundreds of different diseases. They all share the fundamental characteristic of rogue cells growing out of control, but each type of cancer, and each person’s individual cancer, is unique and comes with its own set of challenges.
That’s why it’s very unlikely that there will be one single cure that can wipe out all cancers. But, as we explain in the short animation below, that doesn’t mean individual cases of cancer can’t be cured. Many cancers in fact already can be. Testicular cancer for instance is very sensitive to treatment with chemotherapy drugs and most cases can be cured – survival today is as high as 98%, and that’s just one example among many.
- Find out more in our video here.
Researchers aren’t on the hunt for a silver bullet against all cancers. Quite the opposite. The more scientists get to know each type of cancer inside and out, the greater the chance of finding new ways to tackle these diseases so that more people can survive.
That’s why our life-saving research goes on.
We’d like to thank Jonny for asking us this question. If you’d like to ask us something, email [email protected], leaving your first name and location (optional).
To learn more from some of our leading scientists, read this 2022 article on ‘Why haven’t we cured cancer?’.
You can also listen to our podcast about what it means to cure cancer.
- Introducing our Science Surgery series
- Science Surgery: ‘What factors lead to a cell becoming cancerous?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Could more cancers be caused by inherited faulty genes than we now think?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Will cancer ever be cured?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Is the one-size-fits-all treatment approach obsolete?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Does having had cancer make you more likely to develop it again?’
- Science Surgery: ‘What’s being done to use treatments in different types of cancer?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Do we all have potentially cancerous cells in our bodies?’
- Science surgery: “What’s the difference between the words genome, gene and chromosome?”
- Science Surgery: ‘Will cancer ever be eradicated completely?’
- Science Surgery: ‘How quickly do tumours develop?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Why do never-smokers get lung cancer?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Why doesn’t the immune system attack cancer cells?’
- Science Surgery: ‘How do tumours ‘know’ where to spread?’
- Science Surgery: ‘How is skin cancer related to sun exposure?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Does cancer attack every age group?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Why do some cancer treatments stop working after so long?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Does cancer affect the future development of children?’
- Science Surgery: ‘How do cancer cells remain dormant for many years?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Why do some cancers metastasise, but others don’t?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Are benign tumours different from cancerous tumours?’
- Science Surgery: ‘How are children’s cancers different from adults’ cancers?’
- Science Surgery: ‘Can cancers develop in the heart?’
maris March 19, 2018
gennie March 15, 2018
Oh there is a cure. But they will never make it available. Imagine how any people it would put out of business. Big Pharma, oncologists, radiographers, nurses, people who work at places like Susan G. Komen, etc etc. The list go on. Trust me, it will never be available.
ariel March 14, 2018
What is so hard about hearing that there is a cure, but that it would be bad for business to release that information, is that not all of us are going to be called into the field of medicine and/or research in our lives, so it’s technically up to those WHO ARE to find cures of some kind.. so the thought of someone choosing which cancers they want to cure and those they don’t is biased, unfair, and sick. To be honest, I don’t know whether to believe there is a cure for all cancers or not, but if there is, and if the reason that those people aren’t releasing that information has to do with greed.. may God punish them forever, because people are forever losing the ones they love to these diseases every single day. Maybe we deserve it, being the sinners that we are, but medicine is discovered for a reason – by the Grace of God; and it is His to give, not ours to hide.
Penis+Vagina March 8, 2018
Cancer is fake
tito March 6, 2018
The government has a cure but they keep it a secret because there rats
Pam Waring March 2, 2018
60+ years . research and all they still over us is the good old killer chemo !…dressed up.
Pam Waring March 2, 2018
Spend less money on nurses chatting about it ,put those nurses to better use .!
Pam Waring March 2, 2018
Just read several other comments .seems other people to are getting feed up of ‘ reseach’ not to mention loosing faith in it ,also people working so hard to earn money for reseach.
Pam Waring March 2, 2018
I’m sick of reading article ….’may’ ‘ might’ ect cure cancer……I remember as a child doing a sponsored walk at school for money for cancer reseach, that must nearly 60 years ago.60 years ago ! Think some people just have good jobs in reseach !
Aj February 10, 2018
Is true cancer can be cured but the funding is to dear
Kay February 4, 2018
Like how there’s a collection of hundreds of disease Somewhat linked to cancer what’s the main thing that each individual have in common
Dave January 24, 2018
In my research on the subject, it appears that there have been numerous intrepid, creative, intelligent people who have found highly effective treatments for cancer. But virtually every single one has been attacked, maligned, discredited and destroyed by the Medical Establishment. In my estimation, if someone were to get great results at treating and even curing cancer, their methods should be honestly investigated.
Having a heavy science background, I never could understand what is really going on in the medical research and treatment fields until I started to take a more expansive look at other factors outside of pure science. The bottom line IS the bottom line. In short, cheap, effective, readily available treatments for cancer (and other chronic diseases) already exist. But they threaten multi-billion dollar empires.
I’ll give you an example. I was experiencing angina symptoms. I did some research and found a very cheap, highly effective, very safe treatment that I could do myself. And it’s been working. Traditional cardiologists would have probably recommended angioplasty or catheterization, each costing at least $10,000 or more. And they are known to fail after a year or so. The substance I used, a year supply was only $25. Although we don’t want to admit it, profits and money have a huge influence on the medical treatments we are offered by the Medical Establishment. There’s no way that after all of the tens of billions of dollars spent on medical research and decades of research being expended that we don’t have ANY effective treatments for cancer or other chronic diseases.
cancercureyeahright January 23, 2018
They act like chemotherapy is a precise tool used to kill the cancer but leave the rest of the body unharmed. Chemotherapy is a race to see if they can kill the cancer before they kill you. It’s like carpet bombing an entire country to destroy one terrorist outpost.
nik January 15, 2018
pretty bad tbh
Ljerka December 20, 2017
Cancer is not the same for various patients but common feature of cancer
Cells is that they are greedy and they
destroy healthy cells around them. They are 1000 times more greedy then
Healthy cells. Satisfying thdir greed with addictive drugs is very bad for cancer cells.Unable to find fix in healthy cells they eradicate themselves.
Ellie November 29, 2017
I am a student at Gatesville Intermediate School and l am interested in cancer. l would love an expert like you to come and answer question for me and my class.
Devastated November 11, 2017
Cancer has struck our family 5 times, in 17 years my dad, grandad, gran, aunt and now step father.
I can’t take anymore we’re about to be torn apart again – is there ANYTHING that can be done, anything that can reduce it, give us more time?
I did a massive fundraiser at the start of the year and got an amazing amount you get lots of donations how can there not be a cure yet?
Justine Alford November 13, 2017
We’re really sorry to hear about what your family is going through. If you’d like to talk to someone about it, you can give our nurses a ring on 0808 800 4040, or send them a message here: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/contact-us/talk-to-our-nurses?wssl=1
Take care and best wishes,
Justine, Cancer Research UK
Thomas Olson October 25, 2017
DNA is very much like a Turing Machine and we have the enzyme that can move everything where we need it to move. Doesn’t that mean all cancer is curable? Maybe someone already has the tech and doesn’t want to share because it’s a weapon.
Masela Toleafoa October 24, 2017
Me and My husband are trying to find what can help my father in law has a Cancer, been taking him to New Zealand 2 times, had couple surgeries, drinking pills, I’m really searching for answer and I really need help for Cure…my husband and his siblings are in so much pain going through this. Please I need an answer as soon as possible
Justine Alford October 26, 2017
We’re really sorry to hear about what you’re all going through.
If you’d like to speak to someone about it, our information nurses are on hand. You can call them from the UK on 0808 800 4040 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, or send them a message here: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/contact-us/talk-to-our-nurses?wssl=1
Take care and all the best,
Justine, Cancer Research UK.
Linda Holland October 9, 2017
I have had breast cancer first in 2006 and then again in 2015 with no particular history of breast cancer in my family. My second cancer required a mastectomy and on histology it was discovered I had two difference types of cancer in the breast tissue. I am on hormone treatment with Letrozole and Bisphosphonates. Women are at least fortunate enough to have regular screening for breast cancer but unfortunately this is note the case for hormone related cancers in men : why not? although it is said that PSA is not a reliable indicator at least it would be an indicator if it was 1307 ! Men who seek this test are often asked why they want it and are quite honestly not made to feel it is a right which it should be as I speak from first hand experience with my husband who only found out by accident with a referral to a consultant for a different matter. This test should be rolled out for all men at 50 PLUS
Justine Alford October 10, 2017
We’re sorry to hear about what you and your husband are both going through. If you’d like to chat to one of our nurses, you can call on freephone 0808 800 4040, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
You’re right that the PSA test is not reliable enough to be used for screening, and because of this there’s no national prostate cancer screening programme in the UK. A large study published in 2013 brought together the results of different trials that had compared men who underwent screening with the PSA test and those who didn’t, and found that screening didn’t save any lives. And the men who had screening were more likely to have unnecessary tests and treatment. You can read more about this research here: http://www.cochrane.org/CD004720/PROSTATE_screening-for-prostate-cancer. What this research has shown is that the PSA test can pick up cancers that wouldn’t have gone on to cause any problems in a man’s lifetime if they had gone undetected. Finding these cancers can therefore lead to unnecessary tests, treatment and distress. The PSA test can also miss some prostate cancers.
Men aged 50 and over without potential prostate cancer symptoms can request a PSA test from their doctor, but it’s important these men have a conversation with their doctor first to understand the possible outcomes of having the test, so they can make an informed decision.
If you’d like more information about prostate cancer screening, visit our website: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/prostate-cancer/getting-diagnosed/screening
Cancer Research UK
Justine Alford October 6, 2017
Hi Deborah, Rise,
We’re really sorry to hear about both of your situations. It sounds like you’re both going through very tough times.
If you’d like to chat to someone, you can call our information nurses on 0808 800 4040, or send them a message here: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/contact-us/talk-to-our-nurses
Wishing you both all the best,
Justine, Cancer Research UK
Deborah Cooke October 6, 2017
My husband is now acutely ill with Pancreatic Cancer. He received the best and newest treatment available. We sought second opinions at each stage. He had chemotherapy and radiotherapy with the plan for surgery. When they operated in July they found that the cancer had spread extensively despite his scan being clear. His disease has progressed so rapidly and he is now receiving end of life care. I can only hope and pray that a cure can be found for this horrendous disease.
Rise October 6, 2017
I do think my type of cancer will be cured by drugs and chemo. radiotheraphy. I have been through chemo and although it is devastating, I am reassured that it is treatable with all the new drugs coming through. I have Non Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 5 with underlying problems which I know cannot be cured but can be controlled with treatment
Most cancers can be cured it just depends on when they are detected and the type of cancer.
Anne Harvey October 6, 2017
I think that with the amount of Charity money which is being raised for breast cancer that more could and should be done at least for that. 50 years on and we are still offering women the very devastating chemotherapy , surgery and radiotherapy trio.The drugs may be newer and better targeted but these are still tremendously harsh treatments. What on earth happens to all the money which is raised? We dont all want bags of free cosmetics!!!
Philip MCDONALD October 6, 2017
Yes we will cure this bony and family killer .But what will replace it .