More people are surviving cancer than ever in the United States, according to a new report from the American Association for Cancer Research.
Over the past three years, the number of cancer survivors in the United States – defined as living people who have been diagnosed with cancer – has increased by more than one million. There are 18 million survivors in the United States as of January, and that number is expected to rise to 26 million by 2040, the association said. The report notes that there were only US$3 million cancer survivors in 1971.
For all cancers combined, the overall five-year survival rate increased from 49% in the mid-1970s to almost 70% from 2011 to 2017, the most recent years for which data are available.
The overall age-adjusted cancer death rate continues to fall, with reductions between 1991 and 2019 translating into nearly 3.5 million deaths averted, the association said.
Declines in smoking and improvements in early detection and treatment of cancer are driving the change, according to the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2022, released Wednesday.
Dr Lisa Coussens, president of the association, said in a statement that part of the credit goes to an investment in research – both for treatments and for understanding the disease.
“Targeted therapies, immunotherapy and other new clinically applied therapeutic approaches all stem from breakthrough discoveries in basic science,” she said. “Investment in cancer science, along with support for science education at all levels, is absolutely essential to drive the next wave of discovery and accelerate progress.”
For example, between August 1 and July 31, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved eight cancer treatments, expanded the use of 10 previously approved drugs to treat new types of cancer, and approved two imaging agents. diagnostic, Coussens said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Increasing funding for cancer research is the cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s relaunch of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.
Biden – who lost a son to brain cancer – said this month his goal was to cut the US cancer death rate by at least half over the next 25 years.
“Cancer does not distinguish between red and blue. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together,” said Biden, who originally led the initiative when he was vice president under Obama.
The new report urges Congress to fully fund and support Biden’s goal of “ending cancer as we know it.”
“The revived Cancer Moonshot will provide an important framework for improving cancer prevention strategies; increase screening and early detection of cancer; reduce cancer disparities; and propel life-saving new cures for cancer patients,” the report states, adding that “the actions will transform cancer care, increase survival, and bring life-saving cures to the millions of people whose lives are touched by cancer. “.
Although nearly 3.5 million cancer deaths were averted between 1991 and 2019, more than 600,000 people in the United States are still expected to die of cancer this year, according to the association.
“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, approximately 40% of cancer cases in the United States are attributable to preventable risk factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity.
But there are also ongoing challenges such as health disparities that affect racial and ethnic minorities and barriers to health care such as limited health insurance coverage and living in rural areas.
In a recorded statement played at the press conference, U.S. Representative Nikema Williams said she learned after her mother’s death from cancer that “health care in America is not yet a human right.” .
“We have two health care systems in this country: one for people who can afford preventive services and quality treatment and one for everyone else,” said Williams, a Democrat from Georgia.
The annulment of Roe v. Wade is also expected to affect cancer care by limiting health care options for pregnant women with cancer, according to the report.
“With the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which ends the constitutional right to abortion, there is uncertainty as to how a particular cancer treatment can lead to the termination of a pregnancy. Such uncertainty may prohibit some doctors from prescribing a drug or providing other health services in a timely manner due to potential legal consequences for the doctor and the mother,” according to the report.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on cancer in the United States, with nearly 10 million missed breast, colorectal and prostate cancer screenings in 2020.
The report offers recommendations to build on the progress made and regain momentum.
“Making progress towards ending cancer means more birthdays, more Christmases, more graduations and everyday moments for families everywhere,” Williams said.
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