Behind the Breakthroughs
The Your Stories Podcast

Hear candid conversations between people conquering cancer — patients, their family and friends, and doctors and researchers working to help us all.

Dr. Otis Brawley
Behind the Breakthroughs
Answering an All-Too-Common Question
When it comes to fundraising for cancer research, the word “cure” is almost inescapable. People race for the cure, walk for the cure, and in 2024, even play pickleball for the cure. And yet, around the world, cancer persists. It’s no surprise, then, that many people ask: Why hasn’t cancer been cured yet? The answer to this common question is more complicated than it may seem.

Dr. Otis Brawley, a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University and a member of Conquer Cancer’s Board of Directors, helps to answer this question. As editor of The Cancer History Project, a free online resource tracing the history of cancer in medicine, Dr. Brawley discusses the historical, scientific, and cultural reasons why the word “cure” brings up so many misconceptions. He also talks about how research advancements over the past two centuries have reshaped our understanding of cancer and the way we talk about it.
Your Stories
Why Hasn’t Cancer Been Cured?

It's easy to confuse the idea of curing a disease with that of eradicating it. There's an important difference—one that can change your perspective on what conquering cancer truly means. There are numerous misconceptions about what it means to cure cancer, and these are driven by a variety of historical and sociocultural factors. Dr. Otis Brawley, a former chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, joins this episode of the Your Stories podcast to help set reasonable expectations around what the possibilities are for treating, managing, and conquering cancer.

Along with host Dr. Mark Lewis, he also unpacks why some cancers have relatively successful ‘cures’ compared to other cancers. Together, they discuss how the evolution of research shows promise for a world where every patient and survivor is healthy.

Our perspective of what the disease is has changed because research—over the last 50 years—has given us a different view of cancer. This is like being able to look at the Earth from way out in outer space, instead of from six feet above the ground.
Dr. Otis Brawley