Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease. But recent technological developments offer the hope of new and better ways to combat the disease.
For many of the most pervasive types of cancer, about half of the drug candidates furthest along in the research pipeline use approaches other than that of traditional cytotoxic drugs, which work by killing cells or preventing their division.
With continuing advances in the development of therapies like monoclonal antibodies and tumor vaccines, biotechnology should account for a growing portion of the cancer drug market, which may reach $80 billion a year by 2009.
As costs soar and reimbursement wanes, though, many patients are unlikely to reap the benefits of some of the most promising of these developments.