Scientists and researchers have spent 30 years learning about cancer, understanding how it works, and devising cleaner and more effective treatments.
While this is to be applauded, Professor Lawrence Young - who heads up the Cancer Research UK Institute for Cancer Studies at Birmingham University - believes the "price placed on life" debate will rumble on.
Only one per cent of new drugs are successfully tested through clinical trials, licensed, and approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Research (Nice) for use in the NHS, so when drugs like Herceptin break through it is at a price.
Prof Young said: "The financial consequence of these wonderful developments is the cost of new drugs, just the tip of the iceberg.
"While Herceptin is very effective, and can add years to a woman's life, the new bowel cancer drugs only extend a person's life by a couple of months.
"But it'll move on from five months, to ten months, up to two years and maybe a cure, but that's no good if the funding's not there.
"I don't know how influenced Nice are by the cost of new drugs but the Government has got to come up with another pot of money, as the NHS does not have a bottomless pit."
Yesterday it emerged Nice set a threshold of £30,000 for an added year of life provided by a treatment, which reflects effectiveness, added months or years, and quality of life, rather than the recommended price.
But as many drugs fail to become licensed or approved, pharmaceutical companies offset trial costs by inflating the price of new treatments.
Prof Young said: "What price do we put on survival for one, two, or more years - it's impossible to put a price on when it's you or a family member. It's a catch 22 situation.
"Nice should be making decisions on a drug's effectiveness and safety, rather than cost.
"The thing with Herceptin was everybody knew it had been licensed for late-stage breast cancer, but when we heard of its use in early-stage they were saying they did not approve it. This is not sustainable. We could see it happen with any new drug in modern medicine, not just cancer."
He added: "This is frustrating because the on-going research leading to development of new drugs has helped us turn cancer from a fatal disease into a chronic one over 30 years.
"We can treat a 65-year-old with prostate cancer every six months, and he will have 20-plus years of high quality life. It wasn't so long ago that would seem impossible."