Cancer Prevention Versus Cure? One Physician-Scientist's "Pet Peeve"

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dr. Emil Freireich working with a blood cell separator centrifuge

“Then we have ‘prevention is more important than cure.’ That’s the one I like best. That’s my pet peeve….Think about it for a minute. We knew everything we needed to know to prevent the mortality from lung cancer in 1953. That was forty-five years ago. And lung cancer is still the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. You know why cancer prevention is an illusion? Because people don’t do what they’re told.”

Dr. Emil Freireich, NCI, in his 1997 oral history. Dr. Freireich helped develop combined chemotherapy for childhood leukemia.

In his outspoken way, he also describes the effect of the Depression on society, medical training in the 1940s, the development of the modern understanding of disease and treatment, and the importance of seeing patients.

Read his full interview at