Skip to Main Content

This week on Signal, we’re talking about the “low-down dirty rat” of medicine. Cancer.

Over the past few years, scientists have learned some of the amazing things about what makes cancer such a wily adversary. It’s a master of adaptation, of escape, of armor, and of stealth – basically a ninja of the disease world.


For one thing, tumors undergo tens of thousands of genetic changes, which is what helps them build resistance to some forms of chemotherapy. Cancer is also an expert at evading the immune system, our best weapon against foreign invaders. Scientists are experimenting with new types of therapies and drugs that combat some of cancer’s dirty tricks. But the idea that there will be a single magic bullet for cancer may be too simplistic an approach for defeating medicines most complex and crafty enemy.

The Signal podcast is produced by Katie Hiler.

Music: I Knew a Guy, by Kevin MacLeod