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Time magazine's "How To Cure Cancer" cover is just awful

Illustration for article titled emTime/em magazines How To Cure Cancer cover is just awful

The cover of Time's April 1 issue reads "HOW TO CURE CANCER." It's complete bullshit.

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That's it up top, on the left. When I saw it, I was immediately reminded of the ironically appropriate cover art on the right, which the magazine originally ran all the way back in May 1998. Over at Slate, Seth Mnookin has served up a scathing – and warranted – takedown of the magazine's current coverline, which he calls "wrong, grandiose, and cruel" (what the periodical's own 1998 issue would have called "hype"):

A decade ago, when I was on the national desk at Newsweek, a handful of us would spend slow nights competing to see who could come closest to writing the Platonic ideal of a perfect coverline.

The game only had one real guideline: The headlines had to be vaguely rooted in reality.

That’s a journalistic precept that Time feels free to ignore. Witness the headline emblazoned in all-caps on the cover of the magazine’s April 1 issue: “HOW TO CURE CANCER.” It’s followed by an asterisk that directs you to a subtitle, just to make sure you get the point: “Yes, it’s now possible, thanks to new cancer dream teams that are delivering better results faster.”

Which, of course, is completely, utterly, inarguably false. The roughly 580,000 Americans who will die this year from cancer know the reality all too well. For some context, that’s more people than will die from chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes combined.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been major advances in treating some types of cancer, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, testicular cancer in men, and early-stage breast cancer in women. On the whole, however, our ability to treat solid tumors in late-stage disease remains, in the words of Nita Maihle, the director of Yale’s Biology of Reproductive Tract Cancers Program, “abysmal.”

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Go read the rest over at Slate.

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DISCUSSION

I'm living proof that it is indeed possible to cure cancer. I had a retinal melanoma in high school and it's been in remission for nearly 27 years now. True, there are plenty of cancers that aren't curable, but the Time article isn't saying it's easy, just that it's possible.

One can say that the headline is a misleading overstatement. But it is not "completely, utterly, inarguably false," because if it were, I'd either have a glass left eye or be dead.