It is rather the fashion at present to belittle the results of the laboratory investigation of cancer, but when a colleague shows signs of pessimism it is the custom of the writer to ask whether he would rather have had malignant disease thirty years ago or have it today. The answer has always been in favor of the present, showing that even those who in their darker moments despair of ultimate solution of the cancer problem realize that some progress has been made.
Reflect for a moment on the magnitude of the problem. Here we stand, faced by the cancer cell, a foe so small that it cannot be seen, so tireless that it proliferates indefinitely, so relentless that it gives no quarter, so despicable that it wears no distinguishing uniform. And yet something has been learned of its nature and its methods of attack, although for about thirty centuries the last link in the chain of scientific method was lacking. Observation and hypothesis we could employ, but not experiment; only for the one-hundredth part of the total period has this last been available. Did the physician learn ninety-nine times as much about cancer before the beginning of the present century as has been learned during the past thirty years? He did not.