The winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine say they expect substantial advances toward treating cancer in the next several decades although they say it’s unlikely the disease could be eradicated.

The 2018 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, Tasuko Honjo, left, and James P. Allison attend a press conference at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Janerik Henriksson/TT via AP)
The 2018 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, Tasuko Honjo, left, and James P. Allison attend a press conference at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Janerik Henriksson/TT via AP)

James Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan made the assessments at a Thursday news conference ahead of receiving the 9-million-kronor ($999,000) Nobel prize. They won the prize in October for their work in immunotherapy — activating the body’s natural defense system to fight tumors.

The 2018 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, Tasuko Honjo, left, and James P. Allison attend a press conference at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Janerik Henriksson/TT via AP)
The 2018 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, Tasuko Honjo, left, and James P. Allison attend a press conference at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Janerik Henriksson/TT via AP)
The 2018 Nobel Physiology or Medicine laureate, Tasuko Honjo poses during the traditional Nobel Chair Signing ceremony at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Claudio Brescian/TT via AP)
The 2018 Nobel Physiology or Medicine laureate, Tasuko Honjo poses during the traditional Nobel Chair Signing ceremony at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Claudio Brescian/TT via AP)

Allison says “soon we’ll get close with some cancers,” citing progress against some forms including melanoma. But he says “the world will never be cancer-free.”

The 2018 Nobel Physiology or Medicine laureate, Professor James P. Allison poses during the traditional Nobel Chair Signing ceremony at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP)
The 2018 Nobel Physiology or Medicine laureate, Professor James P. Allison poses during the traditional Nobel Chair Signing ceremony at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday Dec. 6, 2018. (Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP)

Honjo said he expects that immunotherapy will eventually be used against most cancers, often in combination with radiation or chemotherapy.

Source: The Associated Press