The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released its “Sixth Annual Cancer Progress Report,” highlighting the achievements and challenges for cancer care and research.
The report lists the development of immunotherapy as “one of the most exciting advances in cancer care” – as checkpoint inhibitors have been approved to treat bladder cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma – while also noting that collaborative efforts to accelerate advances in cancer care must remain a priority.
“The promise of immunotherapy for cancer therapy has never been greater, and the opportunity to make significant progress in this critical area is real,” said Nancy E. Davidson, MD, president of AACR and director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, in a press release discussing the report. “However, continued progress is going to require a sustained federal commitment to the research agenda.”
Some of the achievements detailed in the report included:
- The U.S. cancer death rate has decreased by 1.5 percent per year since 2003, largely due to better disease detection and the development of effective treatments.
- From 1991 to 2012, the U.S. cancer death rate declined by 23 percent, translating into 1.7 million cancer deaths avoided.
- The number of cancer survivors in the United States has increased from 3 million in 1971 to 15.5 million in 2016. Approximately 112,370 of these survivors are children or adolescents.
- Between August 2015 and July 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research approved 40 new drugs to treat cancer as well as 11 new indications for previously approved anticancer therapeutics.
However, the report noted that not all population subgroups, including ethnic minorities, people with low socioeconomic status, older patients, and individuals who live in certain geographic regions, benefit equally from these advances. The economic toll of a cancer diagnosis was also emphasized, as direct medical costs of cancer care in the United States in 2010 were nearly $125 billion, with a projected increase to $156 billion by 2020.
Source: American Association for Cancer Research news release, September 20, 2016.