PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) today released its annual Cancer Progress Report highlighting how federally funded research discoveries are fueling the development of new and even more effective ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer.
Key advances outlined in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2018 include the following:
Twenty-two treatments for cancer were approved for the first time by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or approved for new types of cancer between Aug. 1, 2017, and July 31, 2018. Among these treatments are revolutionary new immunotherapeutics called CAR T–cell therapies, exciting new targeted radiotherapeutics, and numerous new targeted therapeutics that are expanding the scope of precision medicine.
The U.S. cancer death rate declined by 26 percent for adults from 1991 to 2015, a reduction that translates into almost 2.4 million lives saved, according to the latest data.
The cigarette smoking rate among U.S. adults has fallen to 14 percent, down from 42 percent in 1965, thanks to public education and important policy initiatives.
Research supported largely by federal investments in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) is altering the trajectory of cancer by driving advances in public health and improvements for patients being treated across the entire cancer care continuum.
“The unprecedented progress we are making against cancer has been made possible largely through basic research,” said Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, President of the AACR and deputy director of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “A continued increase in federal funding for both basic, translational, and clinical research will allow us to make major headway moving forward.”
Cancer: An Ongoing Challenge and Costly Disease. Research: A Vital Investment
The report emphasizes that despite the significant strides we are making against cancer, the disease continues to pose enormous public health challenges.
According to the report:
The number of new cancer cases in the United States is predicted to rise from more than 1.7 million in 2018 to almost 2.4 million in 2035, due largely to the increasing number of people age 65 and older.
More than 609,000 people in the United States are projected to die from cancer in 2018.
HPV vaccination could prevent nearly all cases of cervical cancer, as well as many cases of oral and anal cancer, but less than 50 percent of U.S. adolescents ages 13 to 17 are up to date with the recommended vaccination series.
Advances against cancer have not benefited everyone equally. Cancer health disparities are some of the most pressing challenges posed by the disease.
The report explains that the increasing burden of cancer underscores the need for continued transformative cancer research to develop new approaches to prevention and treatment. It also calls for our elected leaders to:
Continue to support robust, sustained, and predictable growth of the NIH budget by providing an increase of at least $2 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2019, for a total funding level of at least $39.1 billion.
Ensure that the $711 million in funding designated through the 21st Century Cures Act for targeted initiatives, including the National Cancer Moonshot, is fully appropriated in FY 2019 and is supplemental to the healthy increase for the NIH’s base budget.
Increase the FDA base budget in FY 2019 to $3.1 billion, a $308 million increase above its FY 2018 level, to ensure support for regulatory science and accelerate the pace of development of medical products that are safe and effective. Specifically, the AACR supports a funding level of $20 million for the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence in FY 2019.
Support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cancer Prevention and Control Programs with total funding of at least $517 million. This includes funding for comprehensive cancer control, cancer registries, and screening and awareness programs for specific cancers.
“There has never been a time of greater excitement in the cancer field,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “The rapid pace and broad scope of the progress against cancer are extraordinary. We have the scientific knowledge, cutting-edge technologies, and capability to deliver a new wave of innovations that will stimulate more lifesaving progress. However, if we are to seize these opportunities to further transform cancer care, we must ensure that biomedical research remains a high priority for our nation’s policymakers.”