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Cancer Research

So we haven’t beat cancer yet, but I think we’re getting there. 

A lot of the time we get asked, will we beat cancer, or why haven’t we beaten it yet; well, for a start, cancer isn’t just one disease, it’s hundreds of diseases and it probably looks like now it’s as unique a disease as each one of us, we all have our own individual cancer: if you have it, the genetic faults that are in it are probably quite unique to you.  When it comes to treating it successfully, we’ve made huge progress in some types of cancer; more than 95% of men with testicular cancer are effectively cured now, that was 70% in the 70s, and by “cured” we mean it doesn’t come back.  Around three quarters of children with cancer are cured, it doesn’t come back, but there’s other cancers where we’ve made a lot less progress and the goal is to treat people so that it doesn’t come back.  And whether that’s just treating it again and again and again and then again and again when they relapse after treatment, or getting complete cures.  In some cancers we’re getting there; in others we’ve got a long way to go but there’s huge progress that’s been made.  I think people forget that, and I’ve just made a film with Viv Parry about 50 years of progress in cancer, and it’s incredible where we’ve come from in such a short length of time.  You know, in my own lifetime we’ve seen the development of Sanger sequencing, where we can sequence DNA and we can go to sequencing entire genomes in a week and that’s going to change how we treat cancer, how we diagnose it, how we monitor it, the pace of change is incredible.  So we haven’t beat cancer yet, but I think we’re getting there.