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Personal Views

Britain needs a national cancer institute

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1397
  1. Jonathan Waxman, consultant physician and chairman of the Prostate Cancer Charity, London,
  2. Ian Gibson, MP, chairman, All Party Cancer Group, London (
  1. If you would like to submit a personal view please send no more than 900 words to the Editor, BMJ, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JR or e-mail

    Within the past few months five potential new cures for cancer have been announced. These announcements have increased the sales of newspapers, boosted the share prices of certain biotechnology companies by 600%, and raised hopes in the hearts of the 278 000 people a year who develop cancer in England and Wales. Such pronouncements have been a constant media feature since 1980 when the Imperial Cancer Research Fund announced that it was going to spend £1m on interferon, the wonder drug of the time, for treating cancer.

    You could cynically comment that such announcements represent the devious attempts of snappily dressed public relations consultants to bolster share prices and promote fund raising for cancer charities. But are they? Although there is no doubt that financial public relations consultants do attempt to manipulate the media, the cancer charities have an ever present and …

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