In 10 seconds? Want to get a grip on cancer, understand its basics, and the process of how science uncovers its secrets bit by bit? Follow our 101 series! In our first digest, we’ll break down what cancer is and why it’s so difficult to treat.

Why are people still dying when so much money has been spent on cancer research? Indeed, despite billions of dollars in US federal funding and enthusiastic fundraising efforts worldwide, a cancer diagnosis is rarely a casual matter. Why isn’t cancer curable yet? And, isn’t it all just a scheme to keep cancer patients driving profits for Big Pharma? I get your frustration. The truth is, the biggest conspirator here is Mother Nature. Scientists have learned that there is not one ‘cancer’ at all, and the reality is–complex. Luckily, research has helped us cure many cancer patients, and if for nothing else, at least the federal dollars have helped us uncover many reasons why cancer is such a fickle foe.

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