In the past three years, the number of cancer survivors in the United States – defined as living people diagnosed with cancer – has increased by over a million. According to the association, there were 18 million survivors in the U.S. in January, with that number expected to rise to 26 million by 2040. The report notes that there were only US 3 million 1971 cancer survivors.
For all cancers, the five-year overall survival rate increased from 49% in the mid-1970s to almost 70% in 2011-2017, the last years for which data are available.
Overall age-adjusted cancer mortality continues to decline, with nearly 3.5 million deaths avoided between 1991 and 2019, the association said.
“Targeted therapies, immunotherapy and other new therapeutic approaches used clinically are derived from fundamental discoveries in basic science,” she said. “Investing in cancer science, as well as supporting science education at all levels, is absolutely essential to fuel the next wave of discovery and accelerate progress.”
For example, between August 1 and July 31, the US Food and Drug Administration approved eight anti-cancer drugs, extended the use of 10 previously approved drugs to treat new types of cancer, and approved two diagnostic imaging agents, Coussens said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Increased funding for cancer research is the cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s renewed Cancer Moonshot initiative.
“Cancer does not discriminate between red and blue. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat. Fighting cancer is something we can do together, ”said Biden, who initially led the initiative when he was vice president under Obama.
“Cancer Moonshot reignition will provide an important framework to improve cancer prevention strategies, increase cancer screening and early detection, reduce cancer imbalances and fuel new life-saving drugs for cancer patients,” the report said, adding that “actions will change cancer care, increase survival and bring life-saving medicines to the millions of people whose lives are affected by cancer. “
Although nearly 3.5 million cancer deaths were avoided between 1991 and 2019, this year, according to the association, more than 600,000 people in the US are still expected to die from cancer.
“In the United States alone, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed each year is expected to reach nearly 2.3 million by 2040,” the report said.
According to the report, about 40% of cancer cases in the US can be attributed to preventable risk factors such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, poor diet, insufficient exercise, and obesity.
But there are also ongoing challenges, such as health inequalities affecting racial and ethnic minorities, and barriers to healthcare such as limited health coverage and rural life.
In a taped statement at a press conference, US representative Nikema Williams said that after her mother died of cancer, she learned that “healthcare in America is not yet a human right.”
“We have two health systems in this country: one for people who can afford high-quality prevention and treatment services, and one for everyone else,” said Williams, a Georgian Democrat.
The Roe v. Wade reversal is expected to impact cancer care as well, limiting health care options for pregnant women with cancer, the report said.
“With the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade case, ending the constitutional right to abortion, there is uncertainty as to how specific cancer treatments can lead to termination of pregnancy. Such uncertainty may prevent some doctors from prescribing a drug or providing other health services in a timely manner because of the potential legal ramifications for both the doctor and the mother, ”the report said.
The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on cancer in the United States as nearly 10 million breast, colorectal and prostate cancer screening tests were missed in 2020.
The report provides recommendations on how to capitalize on progress and regain momentum.
“Progressing in the fight against cancer means more birthdays, more Christmas, more testimonies and everyday moments for families around the world,” Williams said.