My two young sons and I spent months walking by the poster-size U.S.News & World Report magazine covers declaring Johns Hopkins as the best hospital while my husband was being treated there for malignant chondrosarcoma in 2004. Despite the efforts of the "best" doctors, Saúl Murcia died in 2005 when our sons were 8 and 9. A year later, the mother of two boys the same age in our small, rural Pennsylvania church also died of cancer. I wept when I read the cover story "Breaking Cancers Code" [November 3-10]. I was happy for Louise Cooper and her good fortune in being able to hike in Antarctica thanks to state-of-the-art breast cancer treatment that saved her life. But I'm tired of reading of the rah-rah tone of coverage of the progress in cancer treatment. Cancer still kills a lot of people who remain anonymous amid the cheerleading.
Rebecca Thatcher Murcia, Akron, Pa.
Being a seven-year cancer survivor, "Breaking Cancer's Code" gave me great hope for the future. I have faith that dedicated scientists will truly break the code and make cancer a chronic disease. It finished my October off on a very positive note.
Sandra Moore, Puyallup, Wash.
The cancer-related articles in this issue are informative and provide hope for adults with cancer. Unfortunately, childhood cancer is largely excluded or ignored. When it comes to cancer treatments, children are not mini-adults. Treatments for adult cancers rarely carry over to treating children with cancer. Outstanding awareness, fundraising, and research are given to adult cancers. Very little is given to childhood cancers. The popular American Cancer Society provides about 3 percent of funding toward childhood cancers. I have two sons (a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old) with brain tumors. The oldest has completed chemotherapy while the youngest is currently in treatment. There are two FDA-approved drugs for brain tumors; to my knowledge, neither is approved for childhood cancer. It's time for America to stop avoiding this serious issue.
Chaun Steiner, Toledo, Ohio
Regarding "The Best Medicine? Prevention" about Vitamin E and selenium to prevent prostate cancer: I am in the SELECT trial in Pittsburgh (since circa 1998) and was called the day before your magazine arrived to immediately stop taking my selenium and vitamin E. The risk of becoming diabetic outweighed the prevention of prostate cancer. I will see researchers in Pittsburgh in December for assessment and follow-up.
Rev. Robert J. Marks, Grapeville, Pa.
Editor's Note: The SELECT trial was halted after press time, based on a finding that selenium and vitamin E do not appear to lower the risk of prostate cancer and may in fact raise the risk of both prostate cancer (vitamin E) and diabetes (selenium).