The New York Times has a good start on a series on the "struggle to defeat Cancer" in this piece titled "Advanced Elusive in the drive to cure Cancer". They start by making the point:
Yet the death rate for cancer, adjusted for the size and age of the population, dropped only 5 percent from 1950 to 2005. In contrast, the death rate for heart disease dropped 64 percent in that time, and for flu and pneumonia, it fell 58 percent.
The piece does highlight the progress that has been made on a variety of fronts, including less harsher treatments for many types of cancer.
But it also goes on to ask and answer the "Big" questions:
Researchers say the answer is yes on both counts.
Cancer is hard — it is not one disease or, if it is, no one has figured out the weak link in cancer cells that would lead to a cure. Instead, cancer investigators say, the more they study cancer, the more complex it seems. Many are buoyed by recent progress in cancer molecular biology, but confess they have a long way to go."
There's a lot to understand about this question and the piece is a good start to a promising series.