Editor's Desk
By Rik Kirkland/Managing Editor

(FORTUNE Magazine) – After more than 30 years, how fares the war on cancer? Much worse than you'd think, especially if you've been wowed by news of the recent approval of wonder drugs such as Avastin or Erbitux. Despite a lot of brilliant science and an investment of $200 billion, the death toll from cancer hasn't dropped one bit. (By contrast, deaths from heart disease are down dramatically.) We spend too much time and money shrinking tumors in fatally ill patients and too little on prevention, detection, and understanding the process of metastasis--which is what kills 90% of patients. Why? For the deepest explanation I've read, turn to our special investigation on page 76. It's a science story, a managing story, and for executive editor and author Cliff Leaf, a personal story. At age 15, Cliff fought and won a desperate battle against Hodgkin's disease. Much later he lost his mother, Louise, to a rare liver cancer. In the course of interviewing dozens of experts over three months, Cliff phoned Dr. Bruce Chabner at Mass General. In mid-chat they realized the good doctor had been part of the National Cancer Institute team that had helped Cliff beat Hodgkin's. "Cancer doctors and researchers are always so upbeat," says Cliff, who then flew to Boston to meet Chabner in person. "But at some point in my interviews they'd inevitably start venting their frustrations with the way this war's being fought." In gratitude to those dedicated foot soldiers, we offer Cliff's report on how to turn the fight around--and ultimately save lives.