President Nixon launched the War on Cancer, which he considered a key initiative of his presidency.  When Frank Gannon asked him if he had enjoyed more victories than defeats, he said:  “That will depend on what happens. If, for example, there’s a breakthrough in cancer, that’s a victory.”
Jim Pinkerton argues that RN could indeed claim some measure of victory:

But wait a second, one might say.  Politics aside, did the “war on cancer” work?   The short answer is, “Yes, we have won many battles against cancer, but but not as quickly as we would like.  The full war has yet to be won.”  Is that an acceptable answer?  Have we gotten our money’s worth over the last four decades? People can differ in their answers to those questions, but it is true that treatment for many kinds of cancer has improved dramatically.   For example, colorectal cancer and  lung cancer are still big killers, but survival rates for those cancers have increased sharply.  And for some some other types of cancer, such as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, some 98 percent of U.S. cases are cured.

Roosevelt vs. polio.  Nixon vs. cancer.  Whatever one thinks of those two presidents, it’s true that millions of people, in America and around the world, owe their lives to the great medical science that those two men unleashed. For both the 32nd and 37th presidents, that’s a powerful legacy.