Highlighting Progress and the Need for Ongoing Support in the Fight against Cancer

Dr. Margaret Foti

Ahead of World Cancer Day on February 4, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) would like to thank the thousands of laboratory researchers, physician-scientists, healthcare professionals and patient advocates around the globe and recognize their commitment to increasing the number of cancer survivors who are alive today. In the U.S., thanks to decades of federally funded cancer research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), we have seen a steady rise in the number of Americans who survive a cancer diagnosis. 

Our continued commitment to preventing and curing cancer comes at a time when, despite all the incredible progress, one American continues to die every minute of every day from cancer, while in that same minute, five more Americans receive a cancer diagnosis. These are not just statistics. These are our loved ones, our friends, and our colleagues. Each of the 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 estimated cancer deaths this year in the U.S., out of 8.2 million worldwide, represents a real life that has been or may be lost. 

The AACR’s sixth annual Cancer Progress Report highlights how advanced cancer treatments and diagnostics are finally making their way to market, due in large part to years of federally funded research. We’re particularly encouraged by the increasing success of immunotherapeutics, which are treatments that supercharge the body’s immune system to fight against cancer cells. Hundreds of other advanced therapies, however, remain in the pipeline, and without sustained, robust, and predictable annual federal funding increases for the NIH and the NCI, safe and effective advanced cures will take longer to make their way from labs to patients.

With the passage of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures), we now have an unprecedented opportunity to further reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality. This initiative, which aims to double our progress in half the time, received a commitment of funding in Cures totaling $1.8 billion over 7 years. It will enable the NCI to jump-start research projects in specific focus areas recommended by the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. 

The AACR is calling on Congress and the Trump Administration to provide the NIH with a $2 billion increase for FY 2017 before the current continuing resolution that funds the federal government expires at the end of April. We are in an unprecedented era of scientific discovery that holds enormous promise for new advances in cancer treatment and prevention that could save lives around the world. Now is the time for policymakers worldwide to prioritize and invest in lifesaving cancer research. We remain committed to working with scientists and all stakeholders to ensure that the promise of cancer research is translated into lifesaving advances for patients around the world. We know that the science can and will bring us there.  

Dr. Margaret Foti is CEO of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter