Is Chasing a Cancer Cure Just Throwing Money Away? A Doctor’s Surprising View!

Cancer is a devastating disease that currently claims the lives of about 1,600 Americans daily. Indeed, the U.S. spends billions every year in an ongoing quest to find better treatment options and potentially even cure it. However, a prominent medical professional argues that the pursuit of a cure may be a waste of time and money.

A Different Perspective on Cancer

Richard Smith, who served as the editor of the British Medical Journal until 2004, asserts in a blog post that dying slowly from cancer can be a more desirable way to go than some alternatives. Additionally, he believes society should be less concerned with trying to overcome the disease.

In his argument, Smith quotes French filmmaker Luis Buñuel, who expressed the idea that a quick, sudden death can be appealing. Yet, Buñuel also acknowledged that a slower, more expected death allows the individual to review their life and experience last goodbyes. Smith points out that Buñuel ultimately died at the age of 83 from pancreatic cancer, engaging in theological debates during his final week.

As Smith outlines, there are many ways to die that can be perceived as far worse than cancer. For example, dementia is a heartbreaking condition that gradually erases one’s mental faculties. Alternatively, organ failure can lead to long hospital stays, frequent invasive treatments, and painful symptoms. On the other hand, sudden death may not provide any opportunity for individuals to say their farewells or achieve their final goals.

In conclusion, Smith believes that a gentle and even somewhat romantic death can be achievable, provided one has access to love, morphine, and whiskey. He advises against seeking overly ambitious oncologists and argues that perhaps it’s time to stop directing billions of dollars toward curing cancer, which may lead to people experiencing far more distressing deaths.

The Need for Balance and Realistic Expectations

While Smith’s perspective is thought-provoking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that humanity should cease all efforts toward finding a cure for cancer or developing more effective treatments. Instead, it’s crucial to strike a balance and maintain realistic expectations.

Consider the fact that, according to the National Cancer Institute, the overall risk of developing cancer for men and women in the U.S. is 39.7% and 37.7% respectively. Hence, cancer should not be ignored or downplayed. In fact, the advancements made in cancer research have already resulted in better options for detection, prevention, and treatment.

While it’s true that there’s a slim chance of discovering a “magic bullet” that cures all types of cancer, progress in medical research is still vital. The development of targeted cancer therapies, as well as advances in immunotherapy and precision medicine, have led to improved survival rates and a reduction in side effects.

Accepting the Inevitability of Death

At the same time, it’s essential for everyone to acknowledge and accept the inevitability of death. After all, no one will live forever. No matter how advanced our medical treatments become, there will always be a natural end to human life. Therefore, it’s important to have open discussions about end-of-life care and comfort, including the role that palliative care can play in easing the final months of someone’s life.

According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life for patients and their families facing life-threatening illnesses. This type of care not only addresses physical symptoms and pain, but also provides emotional and spiritual support for each individual. By focusing on the essentials of palliative care alongside the pursuit of cancer treatments, it’s possible to offer patients a more dignified and comfortable experience during their final days.


In summary, it’s important to maintain a balance between the pursuit of treatments for cancer and the acknowledgement of the inevitability of death. While it’s unlikely that humanity will ever find a one-size-fits-all cure for cancer, continuing to invest in research and better treatment options remains valuable.

At the same time, fostering open conversations about end-of-life care and prioritizing palliative care for those with terminal illnesses will ensure that individuals can experience a gentler, more dignified passing, regardless of the specific health conditions they face.