Elizabeth M. Jaffee
Research supported largely by federal investments in the NIH and NCI is altering the trajectory of cancer by driving advances in prevention and treatment, according to the American Association for Cancer Research’s Cancer Progress Report 2018.
“The unprecedented progress we are making against cancer has been made possible largely through basic research,” Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, president of the AACR and deputy director of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, said in a press release. “A continued increase in federal funding for both basic, translational and clinical research will allow us to make major headway moving forward.”
Between 1991 and 2015, the cancer death rate among U.S. adults decreased by 26% — translating into nearly 2.4 million lives saved, according to the report. Moreover, due in large part to public education and policy initiatives, the cigarette smoking rate decreased to 14%, down from 42% in 1965.
AACR’s report also detailed the FDA approval of 22 novel treatments for new cancer types between August 2017 and July 2018, including CAR T-cell therapies and targeted radiotherapeutics.
However, despite these key advances, significant public health challenges remain.
According to the report:
- More than 609,000 people in the United States are projected to die from cancer this year;
- The number of new cancer cases is predicted to increase from more than 1.7 million in 2018 to almost 2.4 million in 2035, largely due to the increasing number of individuals aged 65 years and older; and
- While HPV vaccination could prevent nearly all cases of cervical cancer, as well as many cases of oral and anal cancer, less than half of U.S. adolescents aged 13 to 17 years are up to date with the recommended vaccination series.
For this reason, the report called for 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 2019, for a total funding level of at least $39.1 billion;
- Ensure the $711 million in funding designated through the 21st Century Cures Act for targeted initiatives — including the national cancer moonshot — is fully appropriated in 2019 and is supplemental to the healthy increase for the NIH’s base budget;
- Increase the FDA base budget in fiscal year 2019 to $3.1 billion, a $308 million increase above its fiscal year 2018 level, to ensure support for regulatory science and accelerate the pace of development of medical products that are safe and effective. The AACR specifically supports a funding level of $20 million for the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence in fiscal year 2019; and
- Support the CDC Cancer Prevention and Control Programs with total funding of at least $517 million, including 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,” Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, chief executive officer of the AACR, said in the release. “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 life-saving 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.” – by Jennifer Southall
American Association for Cancer Research. AACR Cancer Progress Report 2018. Available at: www.cancerprogressreport.org/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed on Sept. 12, 2018.