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CNN Larry King Live
The War Against Cancer
Aired December 18, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, are you or a loved one in the fight of your life against cancer?
MICHAEL MILKEN, CANCER SURVIVOR AND PHILANTHROPIST: It takes courage to be a cancer survivor.
KING: Professional breakthroughs and personal triumphs fuelling a wave of positive developments.
DR. SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE, CANCER RESEARCHER AND PHYSICIAN: You can be honest, but you can also be hopeful.
KING: Some of the world's experts on the disease are here, telling us how far they've come, how far we have to go.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And you're clawing and scratching for every extra penny that you're getting for the National Cancer Institute funding.
KING: In the war to destroy a killer, it's an hour that could save your life. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good evening. We have done many shows about cancer during our 25 years on TV. It's such an important subject, we want to do one more.
We welcome Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Institute. He's the best-selling author of "The Spectrum," a scientifically proven program to feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health.
Michael Milken, the financier, philanthropist, and cancer survivor. He co-founded the Milken Family Foundation in 1982 to advance progress in medical research and education. In 2004, "Forbes" magazine called him "The Man who Changed Medicine" for his role in increasing funding and attention for cancer treatment.
Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, cancer staff -- staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center, and author of a brilliant new book, "The Emperor of Maladies" (sic), a biology -- a biography, rather, of cancer, just named by "The New York Times" one of the 10 best books of 2010.
Dr. Derek Raghavan. He is chairman and director of the Taussig Cancer Center at the Cleveland Clinic.
And joining us in a moment from Atlanta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and associate chief of neurosurgery, Grady Memorial Hospital.
We're dedicating this hour to one of our senior producers who has booked the guests for a number of these shows. His name is Hunter Waters. He is battling the disease with dignity and courage. Hunter, this one's for you.
Let's take a look back at some of the important discussions we've had about cancer over the years. Watch.
KING: This may shock you, but 1,500 Americans die every day of cancer. That's the equivalent of four jumbo jets crashing every day of the year. Every day, including Sundays.
KING (voice-over): The broadcast news anchors joined forces to fight a killer.
KING (on camera): It may be hard to watch what inoperable cancer has done to her. It's tough for us to see Tammy Faye looking so weak.
What, in your opinion, is the best way to deal with cancer?
TAMMY FAYE MESSNER, FORMER CHRISTIAN SINGER WHO DIED OF CANCER: With full acceptance that you have it, and do whatever you can to help get rid of it.
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE, ACTRESS AND BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR: You never want to hear those words. It's not really something that I ever thought I would hear. But, yes. I mean, I was shocked, but I -- it's somewhere in me. I just had this idea.
LANCE ARMSTRONG, ATHLETE AND FOUNDER OF LANCE ARMSTRONG FOUNDATION FOR CANCER RESEARCH: And I care. I cared about my life. I cared about what drugs I was going to take. I cared about the interaction with the doctors and the nurses, and I wanted to -- I wanted to know everything.
OK, I have cancer. I don't know anything about it.
SHERYL CROW, MUSICIAN AND BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR: (INAUDIBLE) and you -- they do these little tattoos, and I've kept my tattoos because -- I don't know if you can see that little black -- because it is a reminder for me. It's a reminder of that time and it's a reminder of -- of how I want to look at my life.
SUZANNE SOMERS, ACTRESS WHO CHALLENGED CHEMOTHERAPY: I've never told anyone, in the last year I've been battling and surviving breast cancer. COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm a prostate cancer winner.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, LATE AUTHOR AND HEALTHCARE ACTIVIST: I'd like for, you know, to be killing the cancer a little bit at a time and be on this constant downward slide, or maybe that's upward. But -- but it's not like that. It's up and down.
LISA NIEMI, ACTRESS AND PATRICK SWAYZE'S WIDOW: For us, every day, every week was a supreme victory. So it wasn't like oh, my gosh, could we make it to six months? It was, yes. We made it.
JOE TORRE, ATHLETE AND PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR: Lo and behold, there it was. I had prostate cancer. You know, I never felt bad. I felt wonderful. Just -- we had just won the second World Series, and I was tickled pink and all of a sudden, you know, you get hit -- hit in the face.
KING: Do you think we're ever going to defeat breast cancer?
REESE WHITHERSPOON, ACTRESS AND AVON GLOBAL AMBASSADOR FOR CANCER AWARENESS: I hope so. Definitely, I think, with a lot of the research that's going on, some big strides are being made and I think, you know, days like today really are very inspiring for the researchers and the survivors and people that are dealing with it every day.
KING: We now assembled panel and discuss the most important topic we can -- cancer.
Dr. Mukherjee, why the title, "The Emperor of All Maladies"?
MUKHERJEE: I picked the title because it's from a -- it's actually a handwritten note by a surgeon, and he says cancer is the emperor of all maladies, the king of our terrors. And I really liked the image of -- of the emperor because this disease has really enveloped our lives and is a -- is a magisterial disease.
KING: How far have we come, Michael?
MILKEN: We've come a great deal, Larry, and just a great way. And I'm very optimistic here. 2010 is probably the greatest year for cancer research ever. And we're seeing a decrease in the death rate, and I have great optimism that the next 10 years we'll substantially reduce the death rate from cancer, and not only will tens of millions of people that have had cancer be living, but we're eventually going to move cancer to a chronic disease, not a life threatening disease.
KING: Is it your concept, Dr. Ornish, that it's preventable?
DR. DEAN ORNISH, PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE INSTITUTE: It often is preventable. You know, we tend to think of advances in medicine as being a new drug or some chemo or radiation or surgery, but what we've done in our studies is show that the simple choices that we make in our lives each day, like what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke, how much exercise we're getting, how much love and support we have can change the soils that the cancer seeds don't grow as well.
And we found that when you change your lifestyle, it actually changes your genes, and in fact turning on the genes that prevent cancer and turning off the onco genes that cause prostate, breast cancer and other illnesses.
KING: Dr. Raghavan, in your opinion, why has the cure eluded us for so long?
DR. DEREK RAGHAVAN, CHAIRMAN, CLEVELAND CLINIC TAUSSIG CANCER CENTER: Well, I have to say, Larry, that we've cured many different types of cancer in my 30-year career. I think good examples include cure rates that we can now report in the leukemias, some types of breast cancer. Testicular cancer is the poster child of success.
The reason that some tumors still are resistant is that cancer is such a complex disease. As Sid Mukherjee illustrated in his book, it changes their stem cells that change the behavior patterns of the little seedlings that begin cancer.
So it's a -- it's a complex target.
KING: Where in this picture, Dr. Gupta is -- is brain cancer?
GUPTA: Well, I think brain cancer is probably at the other end of the -- of the spectrum that was just being discussed in terms of -- in terms of making an impact overall. You know, as a neurosurgeon, I think over the last few decades we have not made the sort of progress with one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer, something known as a glioblastoma.
Larry, we talked a lot, you know, about Senator Ted Kennedy. That was the type of cancer that he had. And this is one of those tumors still, Larry, that, you know, when you -- when you get the diagnosis, oftentimes it comes accompanied, you know, this -- the average survival is around 14 months.
So with some types of brain cancers, we've done better. With this type of cancer, for the reasons that were just mentioned, it is so complicated -- it's not just one cancer. There are so many different types of cancer, literally, within a tumor, and they're all smart. They're all wily. They all evade treatment. That's what makes it so difficult to -- to treat.
KING: We'll be back with more. Don't go away.
OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, ENTERTAINER, BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR: I did everything, I did what I call East meets West. And so I did western therapies and chemotherapy and I did all the western traditions. I did yoga, I did meditation.
NEWTON-JOHN: And I had -- yes, I'm sorry -- and acupuncture and homeopathy and kind of combined two things. Because I found as wonderful as my doctors were may -- western medicine doctors, they didn't have any information and didn't really believe it was anything to do with nutrition.
So I had to -- I kind of divided it in half and went my own way with the -- with the other treatments and -
KING: Rolled all the dice?
KING: Dr. Mukherjee, I want to read a little from your brilliant book which the "New York Times" labeled one of the 10 best books of the year, here's what he said. "In most ancient societies, people didn't live long enough to get cancer. If cancer existed, it remains submerged under the sea of other illnesses. And the cancer emergence in the world is the product of a double negative. It becomes common only when all other killers themselves have been killed. Nineteen century doctors often link cancer to civilizations.
Cancer they imagined was caused by the rushing world of modern life, which somehow incited pathological growth in the body. The link was correct. The casualty was not. Civilization didn't cause cancer, but by extending human life spans, civilization unveiled it.
Why, Dr. Mukherjee, did we hide it for so long? Why didn't we say the word?
MUKHERJEE: Well, part of the answer is that cancer is an age related disease. Not all cancers, but many cancers are age related -- breast cancer, importantly, prostate cancer. And so as the population ages, in general, the rates of cancer incidence and prevalence will increase.
But that said, for a long time the word cancer was not even uttered in the public realm. It was the big C, it was hidden. You know, a woman called up the "New York Times" once and wanted to place an advertisement for breast cancer. And the "New York Times" said, well, what if you place an advertisement for disease of the chest wall. So it's only modern times that we've been able to really encounter and really talk about this in a public way.
KING: Michael, Richard Nixon declared war on it. What ever happened to the war?
MILKEN: Well, we've had a war, Larry, and I think cancer -
KING: But it was late, wasn't it? MILKEN: Well, we have made tremendous progress. You know, we should look at this very optimistically, not -- more than 12 million people in America and tens of millions around the world are living normal lives, I couldn't be happier to be with you here Larry 17 years after I was diagnosed, when they gave me 12 months to live, and I -- and I think we underestimate.
As people see more and more people living normal, more successful lives, cancer no longer is a word that is not spoken from that standpoint. And we sometimes forget that the greatest achievement -- the greatest achievement of the 20th century was a doubling -- a doubling of life expectancy on this planet in 100 years. One out of five Americans lost their life before 5 years old. So 20 percent of the population didn't make it to 5.
Today, you go to 62 before 20 percent of the population passes away. And so, yes, we're living longer, cancer is more common, one in two men, one in three women. But as we focused our attention in modern technology on cancer, the death rate from prostate cancer from projected levels has now dropped almost 50 percent.
KING: How much of this is due, Dr. Ornish, to pharmaceuticals?
ORNISH: Well, you know, if you actually look at the death rate from cancer in the last 50 years, it hasn't changed a lot with some specific exceptions like CML and testicular cancer and so on.
But I think that Mike is a perfect example of how diet and lifestyle can make such a big difference. Seventeen 17 years ago when we were -- we talked about these things, he has been making those -
KING: No medications helped him?
ORNISH: Oh, I think medications -- it's not one or the other, it's the combination of the two.
But we did a study with Dr. Peter Carroll, who's the Chair of Urology at USCF, and the late Dr. Bill Fair, who was the Chair of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and we worked with men who had biopsy proven prostate cancer who'd elected not to have conventional treatment for reasons unrelated to our study. And we found that in a randomized controlled trial that the simple lifestyle changes could stop or even reverse the progression of prostate cancer in many of these men.
And what's interesting is, it's -- it's the same lifestyle that can also reverse heart disease because many of the same underlying mechanisms like inflammation are the same in both conditions.
KING: Dr. Raghavan, maybe this is hard to put it in simple terms, is -- is cancer a civil war in the body in which cells go to war with other cells?
RAGHAVAN: You know, I guess that's one way of expressing it. I think of it a little bit differently. It's certainly a battle where the body is trying to defend itself. If you think of the great Australian immunologist, Mark Barnett (ph), many years go, who was interested in transplantation, he was one of the people who showed that when you suppress the immunity of the body by doing a transplant, cancer cells could really get totally out of control.
I kind of think of cancer more as an invader that's in the body. So that as -- I think many people know we've come to understand that there are different genes that control the way cancer cells grow and some of those genes mutate so that the cells become almost unrecognizable. So essentially you've kind of got what you might call the good guys, the cavalry, which is the body's defense system fighting the invaders.
And as Dean Ornish said a minute ago, there are some sets of data that suggest that you can influence that Yin and Yang, that balance. There are data coming out now to suggest that some types of lifestyle modifications are helpful. On the other hand, there are also a number of trials that showed that many of the remedies that are out there with great popular interest actually don't work.
So I think one of the very important things that Dean has done with Pete Carroll and the late Bill Fair was to actually test the hypothesis in a randomized trial. And unfortunately, we just don't do that enough in the USA.
KING: And we'll be right back. I'll pick it up in a minute. Don't go away.
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MORTON DOWNEY, JR., ACTOR, SINGER AND TALK SHOW HOST IN THE '80S: When I watching your show one night when you had Michael on -- Michael Milken and another guy -
KING: About prostate cancer?
DOWNEY: Prostate cancer. And it was before I had received word that I had cancer. It was only one day before I ever received word. And I called you, I received word and within a matter of hours I called you to see if I could get that information on the doctor with his diet and -- and figure out a way to give up smoking.
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KING: Before we pick it up with what Michael wanted to say, Dr. -- Dr. Gupta, do we know why Jim gets it and John doesn't?
GUPTA: Well, it's an interesting question. I mean, a lot of people sort of subscribe to the idea that, you know, you may be born with some sort of predisposition, if you will, some likelihood of getting cancer and then something in the environment or something that you've done to your own body in some way may sort of cause the cancer to actually happen. So it -- it could be that, but there's still sort of bewildering questions. You know, I -- we talked a lot for example around Peter Jennings when he developed lung cancer and he had been a smoker and then Dana Reeve developed lung cancer and never been a smoker. So it doesn't answer all the questions so sometimes you just don't know.
KING: Dr. Mukherjee, it is a puzzle. Why does -- when it kills us, what kills us? Why do we die?
MUKHERJEE: Well, much like the disease itself is heterogeneous. The causes of death are very heterogeneous. In some cases -- in most cases, cancer kills through metastasis that's when the cells go to different parts of the body and take over different parts of the body and then that's called metastasis. But that's not always the reason.
For instance, in the case of leukemia, which is a cancer of the white blood cells that grows in the bone marrow, part of the reason that often people dies from infections because their leukemia, the cancer cells take over the bone marrow and they -- they make it impossible for the bone marrow to normally work.
So much as the disease itself is heterogeneous, the causes of death are also heterogeneous.
KING: Why are you so optimistic, Michael?
MILKEN: I think you just can see the people that are living normal lives today, Larry. We've funded over 1,500 cancer research programs in more than 30 countries around the world.
ORNISH: Including ours.
MILKEN: Including Dean's over the years. And I -- I just can't tell you, as you travel around the world, you see one success story after another. I think one -
KING: It's not (ph) you keep hearing everyday.
MILKEN: Well, we have an aging population that's dramatically older. The incidence is higher -- one in two men, one in three women. And so, if the number of deaths is the same as the population rate grow grows in ages actually the death rate, just that it's dropping, but the number of men dying has dropped from 43,000 let's say in prostate cancer in '93 to 28,000, 29,000 today. And probably was projected because an aging population at 60 or 70.
Just in the last year, we've discovered that there's 24 forms of prostate cancer and maybe six of them don't even have to be treated because they're not going anywhere. And maybe six of them are so aggressive that you want to treat more than just early treatment or surgery or radiation or something.
So we know so much more. It's just a function of science and determination. But Dean has made another very important point. What we have found in these hundreds and hundreds of studies, is yes, for 20 to 30 percent of the population, it might be your genes and it might have been heredity. But for 60, 70, and some cases maybe as many as 80 percent of the cases, it's your lifestyle.
You can actually change your genes today through your lifestyle, diet and how you conduct your life. And so it's a partnership. It takes courage to be a cancer survivor. But to do something about your life, change your life. You got cancer partly because of the way you were living your life. And Dean, 30 years ago when we first met has been the forerunner of the fact that you can change the outcome in your own life.
KING: Why is chemotherapy, Dean, a terrible word? Since it must help people.
ORNISH: I don't think it's a terrible word. It can be a beautiful word.
KING: But when you hear someone is on chemotherapy, you go, oh.
ORNISH: Well, because of the toxicities and because of the lack of specificity. So it not only poisons the cancer cells, it poisons your whole body. We're getting better at understanding how to target those therapies. And the future of chemotherapy is really personalized chemotherapy. Using genomics, using proteomics to tailor -- it's not one size fits all.
KING: You mean, he can get one and I'll get this?
ORNISH: Something like that. And also it's changing the soil as I talked about before. You know, what you include in your diet is as important as what you exclude. There are hundreds of thousands of protective substances particularly in blueberries and strawberries and tomatoes and soy products and so on that help to prevent against prostate cancer, and by understanding that we can have a sense of abundance while helping to prevent cancer at the same time.
As far as your genes go, we found out that not only if you change your lifestyle, it changes your genes. It actually changes your telemeters, the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we -- we did that in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn who got the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year.
And so when people understand and sort of say, oh, it's all in my genes, there's nothing I can do, what I call genetic nihilism, there's a lot we can do. And these mechanisms of not only inflammation but angiogenesis, you can starve -- what we eat affects the blood vessels that feed a tumor and so we can starve the tumor in ways that don't have the kind of toxicities of chemotherapy.
KING: We'll be back with more on this most important topic -- cancer. Don't go away.
KING: Had you not had the horror of having prostate cancer, would this have been a subject that interested you? GEN. H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, RETIRED U.S. ARMY GENERAL; PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR: Well, I think so.
You know, when you consider that one out of every two men and one out of every three women is going to get this disease and 40 or 20 percent of our entire nation's population have died of this disease, I mean, that's enough.
You know, Saddam Hussein got our attention when he went into Kuwait and killed a few thousand people. I mean, we're talking about something that's going to kill millions and millions and millions of Americans.
KING: We're back with our outstanding panel on this very, very important topic.
Dr. Raghavan, have we got it down? Do we at least now fully understand what we're dealing with?
RAGHAVAN: I think we understand a lot more about cancer. As Mike Milken said a minute ago, you know the last few years have been absolutely spectacular. And the way I kind of think about it, when I started in the 1970s, there was an awful lot of educated guess work using good clinical skill and -- and a bit of guessing.
Now, as we've discussed, we're starting to understand the genes that control cancer, some colleagues of mine and I recently finished a trial where using chemotherapy was completely predicated on a mutation in a gene called P-53, which is one of the genes that suppresses one of the types of cancer.
I will make the comment, because I, like several of the others, am very up on the fact that we're making progress, that it's a slow, steady slope. But I think there's still a real problem, and that is we have an immense disparity in the United States and in North America generally where there are populations of patients that just don't get an even break. People who are elderly, the poor, people who are geographically isolated get a pretty generally raw deal.
And when people say to me if I were the emperor in control of things and could do one thing that might reduce death from cancer, if I could magically create a situation where the death rate from cancer across America was the death rate for college educated white males, we'd drop the national death rate by a huge proportion.
KING: Do you agree, Dr. Gupta?
GUPTA: Yes. That's -- that's a fascinating way of looking at it.
You know, it's interesting. We just did a story specifically looking at the elderly, you would be interested to know. And what was interesting is that so many times hospitals, health care professionals, I think with best interests in mind, oftentimes some of these therapies Dr. Raghavan was just talking about, are not offered to the elderly. They are thought to be too old even if physiologically -- even if they're, you know, even if their bodies can be actually quite young.
And if you go back and ask those elderly patients, more than three quarters of time, they actually wanted a treatment that wasn't offered to them. So I'd think, you know, making sure what we know works is actually made available to those who need it is a -- is a very important step.
KING: Dr. Mukherjee, would you read another little passage from your book?
Well, here's a passage in which I talk about the idea that cancer -- when we began to solve the cancer genome, several groups have done this in several different kinds of cancer, it turned out that there was an enormous level of diversity. So one could become nihilistic and say this problem is just too complicated.
But then, even within that diversity, it -- it turns out that there are unifying principles, and here's where I'm writing about that, "The bedlam of the cancer genome, in short, is deceptive. If one listens closely, there are in fact organizational principles. The language of cancer is grammatical, methodical and even, I hesitate to write, quite beautiful. Genes talk to genes and pathways to pathways in perfect pitch, producing a familiar and yet foreign music, that rose faster and faster.
Underneath what might seem like overwhelming diversity is in fact a deep genetic unity. Cancers that look vastly unlike each other superficially often have the same or similar pathways unhinged. Cancer, as one scientist recently put it, really is a pathway disease."
KING: Michael, we -- we -- I -- I -- it's -- I know you're optimistic, but it's still -- it's still a word. It's still the Big C. It's still a word you don't want to hear.
MILKEN: You don't want to hear it, Larry, but 12 million people in America are living normal lives that have had cancer. Computers --
KING: Who had cancer --
MILKEN: Who've had cancer.
KING: -- now don't have cancer?
MILKEN: That's correct.
Computers are a million times faster than they were 10 to 15 years ago. We have the computing capacity now to deal with numbers that we are dealing with number of cells, one trillion calculations a second. So we can test every single thing today. What we only could have dreamed of doing when I started working on cancer research more than 30 years ago, we can do today in an hour or an afternoon. It is a totally different world today. And, Larry, you've been a big part of that world.
On this very show in 1995, really the first cancer show, people were concerned, what about ratings? How are people going to feel about the Big C? I know it was one of your more successful shows that year, but in 30 days, we collected enough data that used to take 12 years to collect when General Schwarzkopf, we came on that show in '95.
In '96 and '97, we announced the Cancer March on this show. The Cancer March of 1998, mobilizing people throughout the country. A doubling of the NIH budget, a tripling of the NCI budget, and tenfold increases in research for specific cancers.
It has changed the world. This show has led a path that has changed the world.
ORNISH: And I wanted to say that a lot of that is because of Mike, and I salute him for that.
KING: And we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Major event's going to take place here in Washington and across the country this Saturday. It's the -- called the March. And you are the father of this march.
SAM DONALDSON, NEWS REPORTER: And that night, we talked about it. It just sort of came to us, thanks to you, let's have a march on Washington, because I've watched over the years, about 38 years in this town, people who marched on Washington made an impression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Were you scared the night before the surgery?
BOB DOLE, FORMER SENATOR AND CANCER SURVIVOR: I sure was, because I suddenly realized that, you know, cancer, you -- you mention cancer to some people and (INAUDIBLE) lights go out.
KING: We mentioned it on this show. Yes, as the news came in on this program.
KING: (INAUDIBLE) cancer. I mean, that's a scary word just to look at it. DOLE: But you'd -- you'd be surprised the people that I've heard from with different kinds of cancer, and the key to all this is early detection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with our panel.
I don't want to toot my own horn, but you credit this show with saving -- I know we saved a couple of lives when we did the show with Senator Dole, and he revealed about the PSA, and I know people came up to us and said they had no idea about taking it. They took it, they found they had --
MILKEN: Larry, I'm alive today because of that PSA test. Had I not taken that test, I would not be alive today.
But there's seven million people around the world that can see your show who are going to lose their life to cancer this year. You give them hope, you give them opportunity and potentially you'll give them access to care.
But the doubling of the NCI budget and the tripling of that budget, the elimination of cancer as a cause of death in just America is the greatest stimulus we could have. It's worth $50 trillion to the U.S. economy.
ORNISH: And I was going to say that part of the value of your show is to give voice to this. It used to be when you got diagnosed with cancer, it just made you -- it's bad enough that you feel isolated already, but not to be able to talk about it makes it doubly so.
KING: Isn't it said, Dr. Raghavan, though, that if you can go to the Cleveland Clinic, you got a better deal than if you go to Wakamaka (ph) Institute of Cancer in some remote city?
RAGHAVAN: Well, it is a pity, although in many remote cities there's absolutely superb cancer care available.
You know, one of the models that we've developed in Cleveland, and that I hope to export now that I'm moving to the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, is the concept of linking central facilities with outstanding science to smaller places. So in Cleveland and in Charlotte, we will be evolving a mechanism to collaborate between centers of excellence with laboratories and clinical trial centers and making those facilities available out in the homeland of USA.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which I -- I think Mike Milken knows is another really superb patient advocacy group, actually sponsors currently studies that take clever new early phase clinical trials which are designed to look at new drugs and test them for safety and efficiency in the blood cancers and exports them from, for example, the Cleveland Clinic out into small centers throughout Ohio.
And my own feeling is that if government sponsored more work for collaboration between centers of excellence and smaller centers that were prepared to collaborate, we could make an awful lot of progress. There's some absolutely wonderful clinical trial doctors and clinical oncologists out in small places that who be only too pleased to participate.
KING: Dr. Gupta, we spend more in Iraq and Afghanistan than we do on cancer, don't we?
GUPTA: Oh, yes, far more. And -- and as I think Michael Milken is alluding to, you're -- you're clawing and scratching for every extra penny that you're getting for the National Cancer Institute funding and all that.
One of the ironies here, and I think Dr. Raghavan is sort of -- also sort of talking about this is that the way the scientific establishment is now, you -- you often have people working in silos, separate from each other all over the country. If somehow you could make this effort that -- that Michael Milken is describing more unified in some way, and all these smart minds, like Sid Mukherjee, working together with people who are working on the same things as opposed to working separately, you might make some of these -- these audacious yet very achievable goals that Michael is describing much more quicker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree.
MILKEN: That's a -- you know, millions of people use Skype. You talk to your wife, you talk to your kids, you talk to your grandkids.
The ability for one scientist to communicate with another -- we look at sending, watching movies online today. But that same enormous ability to send data allows you to send medical records.
So there is no place on the planet today that if you have a life threatening disease that you cannot interact with one of the leading experts who are using technology today. Technology will solve the problem.
As you pointed out, Larry, it's not that we spend more money on wars than cancer. The United States spent more money last year buying potato chips than we invested in the National Cancer Institute. The last political election, we've spent more in one election than we do on cancer.
And so, if cancer -- elimination of cancer as a cause of death is worth $50 trillion to the U.S. economy, and it's -- imagine, it's worth hundreds of trillions to the world. Imagine if we doubled or tripled that budget. You couldn't get a higher rate of return. And we would compress that time.
KING: We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.
KING: Elizabeth Edwards recently died after a six-year battle with breast cancer. Let's take a look at her last interview on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do you say to other cancer patients?
EDWARDS: That as long as you're walking around, as long as you're not dead now, then you're alive. And --
KING: Look in the mirror.
EDWARDS: Look at -- that's right.
KING: And you're alive.
EDWARDS: You're alive and, you know, don't spend your time worrying about when it is you're going to die. Spend your time worrying about how you're going to live today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dean, you're going to add something to what Michael said?
ORNISH: Well, just that I -- what encourages me is that what the research is changing focus now. It used to be we would just look at the organ that the cancer started in and we'd focus on that. Now, as we have a better understanding of the mechanisms that really underlie cancer, we can target our therapies accordingly, and I think it'll be much more effective and much less toxic.
KING: Dr. Mukherjee, should the oncologist be very honest with the cancer patient?
MUKHERJEE: Yes, the oncologist should be very honest with the cancer patient. I mean, this -- the history as I point out in my book, there are several moments when -- when doctors fool themselves. You know, major trials of breast cancer, for instance, where episodes in which doctors fool themselves and when doctors fool themselves then they fool their patients. In the end -- in the end, you know, it creates -- it creates a rift between doctor and patient.
So I always believe that the oncologist should be honest. But honesty -- you know, you can be honest, but you can also be hopeful, you can be -- you can be -- you can look to the future. And honesty doesn't need equate to hopelessness.
KING: And we'll be back with more right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, TENNIS CHAMPION, CANCER SURVIVOR: I was so lucky that we found it early because of the mammogram. I thought, you know what, I really owe this to the women out there that are putting it off to speak out and say, you know what, get that mammogram every year because you never know when it's going to save your life. And so that's why I went public with it and that's why I'm here to encourage women to get that yearly check up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with our panel.
Michael, did your own cancer cause you to have increased interest in or were you fighting for this before?
MILKEN: I began in '72 when my mother-in-law was diagnosed. And by the time I was diagnosed of cancer in '93, Larry, I had lost 10 relatives to cancer, my father, my mother-in-law, my stepfather and my cousins, et cetera. And I knew nothing about prostate cancer, I knew everything about breast cancer, melanoma, brain tumors, et cetera.
But one of the things I did know -- learn is that I was going to do something different. My -- my prognosis was so negative at the time that my belief was, you know, that I had to embrace nutrition, I had to embrace what some people call Eastern medicine. And I'm a firm believer here that it's a partnership. It takes courage, as I said before, to be a cancer patient. You want to know all the facts.
But we cannot underestimate the will of an individual to live and improve themselves and focus and then take action to do things that give you the best chance for hope. When people tell you 50 percent of the people pass away or what these averages, those are only averages. And those averages also relate to the past. People that had treatment many years ago, which might not be the current treatment.
And so we need to look forward, not back from that standpoint. Doctors around the world are collaborating, Larry, scientists around the world. This is no longer just a U.S. challenge and whether you go to China, India or Singapore or England or Switzerland, wherever you might be in the world, there are amazing breakthroughs coming. And I just don't think anyone can leave this program, Larry.
First without thanking you for your contributions, you were the very first person that was willing to address this issue on the air. You were the very first person that gave people hope. That people, you can see people who have had cancer living normal lives. And I want to say to you, as this 25 years is coming to an end, that people should not take away from this show that we're not going to see a substantial reduction in death from cancer, and move to the period of time where cancer is a chronic disease.
KING: You flatter me.
ORNISH: I also want to just build on what Mike is saying, which is that love is a very powerful weapon against cancer.
ORNISH: In addition to whatever else you're doing, one classic study that Dr. David Spiegel at Stanford did, he took women with metastatic breast cancer. They were all getting the same chemo radiations and surgery. But in addition, one group randomly was assigned to receive a support group where they talk with each other, they let down their emotional defenses. They talked authentically about what it's really like to have cancer with people who understood it because they were going through it. They just did that for a year. Five years later, those women were found to live twice as long.
Now, the love, the connection, the ability to be able to express your feelings authentically with another is one of the most powerful things you can do.
KING: By the way, you can go to Ornish.com. Get lots of information, learn lots of services, all of it free. Back after this.
KING: We played that Aretha Franklin song because she's reported that she has cancer. You're going to say something about it.
MILKEN: And Aretha also was an inspirational force at the cancer march in 1998, Larry. She entertained hundreds of thousands of people in the mall and it was an uplifting experience and it was quite interesting. Whether it was Bob Dole from the Republican Party, and you had Crosby, Stills and Nash there, a very interesting collection of individuals.
ORNISH: Brings us all together.
KING: Dr. Mukherjee, are we going to see it end? Are we going to defeat it?
MUKHERJEE: Well, the ability to convert cancer into a chronic disease is a victory. As I point out in my book, you know, that in 1970s we were obsessed with the idea of cure. And for some cancers, indeed, as was pointed out, testicular cancer is the poster child of that, some leukemias. Indeed, cancer is curable.
But the -- but the ability to reduce or delay death from cancer is going to really transform the way we think about cancer in the future. And the ability to convert cancer into a chronic disease is for some cancers is going to transform the way we think about cancer.
KING: Do you agree, doctor --
MUKHERJEE: And last but -
KING: Go ahead.
MUKHERJEE: And last but not the least, you know, even the ability to give palliative care, to bring this word out into -- into the public and talk about how we can take care of people who have terminal cancer is a very, very important part of this -- part of this process of learning about this disease.
KING: Dr. Raghavan, do you agree?
RAGHAVAN: I do. I once had a patient who was dying of lung cancer, and we were having real trouble controlling his pain. And I asked him what was troubling him the most? And it turned out that he lived alone, was in Australia having emigrated. And his fear was that he would die and be buried alone.
And so my house officer and my chief nurse and I told him that we would actually send him off when he died. And his pain requirements dropped about 80 percent. The point I make is that you can have the best science in the world, but you have to have good old-fashioned clinical doctoring to make the package complete.
KING: And Michael, you think we've turned the corner, right?
MILKEN: I think we've more than turned the corner, Larry. And testicular cancer, 95 percent, men used to die, one of our young investigators, Einhorn from the University of Indiana, changed the world there. And there are people who are changing the world every day in this disease. We really did not focus on this or have the tools.
But as Dean Ornish has so eloquently explained over such a long period of time, this is a partnership. Let's first prevent it. We'd all rather not get cancer and have early detection. And we know in many parts of the world, incidents are 10 percent of what they are here.
KING: We thank all of our guests and panelists. It's been an honor to have had the ability to do shows like this. Dr. Dean Ornish, Michael Milken, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Dr. Derek Raghavan and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
We know that so many of your families have been affected by cancer. So has ours. "LARRY KING LIVE" family will leave you tonight with the faces and names of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and others we know who fought the good fight. Some are survivors. Some are no longer with us. We honor them all.