As a practicing Oncologist, I am profoundly disappointed in the crude, toxic, and ineffective methods we treat cancer. I believe the key to treating cancer in a humane and rational fashion is to harness the immune system as we have done in preventing infectious diseases, by creating cancer vaccines. But, in order to do this and not make the same mistakes with immunotherapy we have made with chemotherapy, a tremendous effort must be made to truly understand how the immune system works and this will require scientists, clinicians, government, industry and philanthropy all committed to the same goals.
Whether this noble effort is possible in our present social and economic environment is unknown to me, but it is certainly something to work towards and engage in an honest and open dialogue. The Cancer Vaccine Collaborative is an example of the type of strategy that may be the key to really putting cancer immunotherapy on the map, as a viable method of treating cancer in the future.