AACR has urged Congress to provide billions more in funding for cancer research, prevention efforts, and expedited review of cancer-related medical products.
The American Association for Cancer Research(AACR) has released the 13th edition of its Cancer Progress Report, which focuses on the importance of improving and saving lives through clinical cancer research. The newest edition explores promising trends and advances in cancer care that can improve research and treatment. However, other challenges outlined in the report require Congress to provide support with annual funding.
“Through the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023, we are sharing with the public and policy makers the progress that has been made, how that progress has been delivered to patients, how it’s changed people's lives, and the unparalleled opportunities that now exist from scientific and technologic advances, so they understand how crucial it is that we maintain this momentum through continued support of [the National Institutes of Health] and [the National Cancer Institute],” said Philip Greenberg, MD, FAACR, AACR President, in a press release.
The report also provides the most recent statistics on cancer incidence, mortality, and survivorship, while offering the newest research in cancer etiology, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The report includes stories and experiences from patients who have received and benefited from cancer treatments outlined in the ACCR report.
The press release noted multiple key advancements approved by the FDA from August 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023, including 14 new anti-cancer therapeutics along with new imaging agents for 12 previously approved anti-cancer therapeutics. These advances in prevention, early detection and treatment have led to a reduction in mortality for numerous types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate.
The report noted that around 3.8 million cancer deaths have been prevented by new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Between 1991 and 2020, the report says the age-adjusted overall cancer death rate in the United States fell by 33%, equating to an estimated 3.8 million averted cancer deaths.
The press release notes that immunotherapy has also contributed to the decrease in death rates for advanced cancers. The history of cancer immunotherapy traces back to 2011 when the FDA approved 11 immune checkpoint inhibitors, focused on using T cells to destroy cancer cells. In 2017, the FDA approved 6 CAR T-cell therapies that increased the amount of cancer-killing immune cells in the patient’s body. Currently, researchers are increasing developments in gene editing to provide more treatments in cancer immunotherapy.
“The advances in cancer research, particularly in the last 2 decades, have been breathtaking. We are in an era of unparalleled opportunity to make even more breakthroughs for patients. For the cancer research community to achieve these breakthroughs, however, our representatives in Congress must continue to prioritize funding for biomedical research, from basic research to clinical trials,” said Greenberg.
Despite the positive progress, the report notes that in the United States nearly 2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed and more than 609,000 individuals will die from cancer in 2023. The 2023 AACR Cancer Progress Reportidentifies challenges that individuals face from the moment of their diagnosis. These challenges include a higher cancer burden among racial and ethnic minorities, fewer treatment options for certain types of cancer, incidence rates of some cancers increasing, and a rising cost of cancer care.
The AACR has urged Congress to provide more funds for cancer research. The press release called on Congress to provide $1.7 billion funds for Cancer Moonshot activities, $472.4 million for the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention, and $50 million to fund the Oncology Center of Excellence at FDA during fiscal year 2024.
“Is it our hope that this comprehensive resource will help to increase knowledge about the myriad diseases we call cancer as well as the innovative research that is improving and extending lives,” said AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hon), in the press release. “The findings in this report, along with the personal stories of the featured patients, underscore the enormous impact that robust, sustained, nad predictable funding for cancer research has had on Americans’ health, and why that support must continue.”
AACR Cancer Progress Report Details Exciting Advances in Cancer Research and Treatment. American Association for Cancer Research. News release. September 13, 2023. Accessed September 8, 2023.