The way people understand cancer is essential to national policy making as well as individuals’ attitude and behavior toward the disease. Earlier this year, therefore, I wrote an Op‐Ed in The New York Times  that challenged the rationale of the Obama administration's initiative for a “Cancer Moonshot” . Contrary to the President's call on America to “cure cancer once and for all” (State of the Union Address, 2016), I argued that we cannot treat ourselves out of the cancer epidemic. Cancer is a natural consequence of aging, and the better medical science gets at keeping people alive, the more cancer there will be in the population. Whether I am right or not is open to debate. What is just as interesting, however, is how people reacted to this message.
Cancer is a natural consequence of aging, and the better medical science gets at keeping people alive, the more cancer there will be in the population
The New York Times gave my Op‐Ed the provocative headline, “We Won't Cure Cancer”, for the printed paper, and “Obama's Pointless Cancer Moonshot”, for the online version, which assured broad distribution in the social media. Responses were communicated through the newspaper's online comment section, Letters to the Editor, Facebook, Twitter, and my personal e‐mail account. They communicated the voices of cancer experts and non‐experts and represent a rich material of how people understand the problem of cancer. In order to share this insight and structure further debate, I here present a summary of the approximately 200 meaningful responses, organized as seven different ways of framing the issue.
1. This is hurting. Cancer causes a lot of physical and psychological pain , and an article that presents cancer development as a natural consequence of aging may appear as …