The Enterprise has an elaborate Sick Bay, well equipped with diagnostic and curative equipment. Dr. McCoy and his colleagues are busy repairing traumatic injuries and diagnosing weird diseases of extraterrestrial origin, but I do not remember any mention of the killers of today (e.g., cancer, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, heart disease).

In general, there is very little discussion (that I remember) of advances in medical technology, except for Dr. McCoy's horror that doctors in the 20th century actually cut people open. (And of course the diagnostic salt shakers.)

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    As there is no indication in the original Star Trek that (unless killed by violence) humans live for ever. Clearly they must die of something.
    – Blackwood
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 2:07
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    Based on McCoy's comment in Star Trek IV, kidney disease is an issue of the past. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that nearly all---if not all---of known physical diseases today are done away with by the time of the original Star Trek. I'm not certain about mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer's. That requires a complete guess, if nothing in the EU speaks to it. Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 3:11
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    @HamSandwich To the best current understanding Alzheimer's disease is a physical malady, which is why it is classified in the ICD-10, not the DSM-V.
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 5:17
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    While not particularly life threatening, it wasn't until the mid-24th century that a cure was developed for the common cold. McCoy noted that modern medicine was still searching for a cure for the common cold in the 23rd century. (TOS: Platos Stepchildren)
    – user62584
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 6:23
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    this should be an answer @Jeeped as the current answer is incorrect for the question as asked
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


While not 'the killers of today'¹, the common cold seemed to remain a problem until the mid-24th century.

In a rough progression of broadcast (not chronological and not complete):

ST:TOS Dr. Leonard McCoy

Doctor Leonard McCoy noted that modern medicine was still searching for a cure for the common cold in the 23rd century. (TOS: "Plato's Stepchildren") McCoy found a number of promising biological candidates on Omega IV that might lead to a viable cure. (TOS: "The Omega Glory") Scotty also mentioned that the common cold was yet uncured, comparing Mira Romaine's discomfort with space to this affliction. (TOS: "The Lights of Zetar")


By the mid-24th century, the common cold was apparently cured, though earlier in the century it still existed. (TNG: "The Battle", "Datalore", "Ensign Ro")

ST:ENT Various personalities

In 2151, Malcolm Reed was surprised that, although Humans could travel past light speed, they still could not cure the common cold. Phlox replied that there was no cure or treatment for the illness except for methods similar to those used in the 20th century. Reed wondered how he had caught the virus inside a hermetically sealed starship, causing Phlox to suggest that he might have picked it up from a contaminated tool or a sealed container. When Reed recalled that he had opened a case of plasma coolant, Phlox surmised the coolant's packer had been nursing a cold. He dismissed Reed's protests that it had happened five months ago at spacedock, saying viruses could survive and adapt. (ENT: "Sleeping Dogs")

ST:DIS Saru and Linus

In 2257, when Saru thought he had a cold, Linus told him that he had a cold the previous week, "which sucked!" as he remarked. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon")

See the full Memory Alpha - Common Cold page for more info. I think I've regurgitated enough of the important bits to comprise an acceptable answer.

¹ The CDC estimates that as many as 56,000 people die from the flu or flu-like illness each year.

Quoted narrative sources:

Memory Alpha - Common Cold

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    +1 Just a note that in the health profession the flu (influenza) is a different infection than the 'common cold', the former is caused by influenza viruses, while the latter are generally caused by rhino viruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses, and enteroviruses.
    – Lexible
    Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 23:50

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