Nature Reviews Cancer 5, 65-72 (January 2005) | doi:10.1038/nrc1529

TimelineChemotherapy and the war on cancer

Bruce A. Chabner1 & Thomas G. Roberts, Jr1  About the authors


The era of chemotherapy began in the 1940s with the first uses of nitrogen mustards and antifolate drugs. Cancer drug development since then has transformed from a low-budget, government-supported research effort to a high-stakes, multi-billion dollar industry. The targeted-therapy revolution has arrived, but the principles and limitations of chemotherapy discovered by the early researchers still apply. This article chronicles the history of modern chemotherapy and identifies remaining challenges for the next generation of researchers.

Author affiliations

  1. Bruce A. Chabner and Thomas G. Roberts Jr are at the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, 02114 USA.

Correspondence to: Bruce A. Chabner1 Email:


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