In the vast, complex field of cancer chemotherapy, reports of new antitumor agents, new animal and clinical trials, and new methods of treatment—occasionally accompanied by Olympian forecasts of success—flash across the medical world with what may seem like the frequency of neon news bulletins on a Times Square tower.
Some 200,000 agents have been tested in the laboratory; more than 200 have been tried in man; about 40 are, or have been, in clinical use.
In fact, in terms of money, effort, and man-hours of talent, the search for chemicals that can be used in the successful treatment of cancer may comprise the most intensive investigation in the history of medicine.
Yet, when several investigators stepped back for a long-range look at cancer chemotherapy in reports to the recent American Cancer Society's scientific meeting in Philadelphia, one of them stated:
"To an objective critic, the present search for anticancer drugs