New AACR Report Highlights Impact of Cancer Research

According to a new report by the American Association for Cancer Research, the number of survivors living in the United States rose by one million between 2014 to 2016. This demonstrates real progress, according to Nancy Davidson, M.D.
According to a new report by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the number of cancer survivors living in the United States rose by one million between 2014 to 2016. The total number of survivors is now a record 15.5 million.

Nancy Davidson, M.D., the president of AACR and the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, says this figure demonstrates progress. In an interview with CURE, she attributes the advancements to “an increasing knowledge about cancer biology, what underlies cancer cells.”

Increasingly, Davidson says, researchers and oncologists have “been able to take that knowledge and translate it into new tests and new interventions that provide a more precise cancer medicine, toward a more precise cancer care.”

AACR’s 2016 Cancer Progress Report was recently released with the goals of increasing the public’s understanding of cancer; highlighting the importance of cancer research to improve public health; and advocating for increased funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Federal Drug Association (FDA). As Davidson puts it, with this funding the goal “is to reduce the burden of cancer, in every way, shape and form that we possibly can” and provide the AACR and researchers with “the opportunity to have a really sustained, reliable research budget.”

The report also expresses support for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s Blue Ribbon Panel. Vice President Joe Biden, who oversees the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, asked for ten years of cancer advancements progress in only five years.

“The Blue Ribbon Committee has put out ten different areas where they think that investments in the short- to moderate-term would have the possibility of really being able to work toward that goal,” Davidson says, noting that she hopes funding would go toward furthering that initiative as well.

Also within the report was a summary of the advances that have come in the last year, both to prevent and treat cancer.

Immunotherapy is without a doubt the hottest treatment option for many cancers. From just August 1, 2015, to September 1, 2016, the diseases with FDA-approved checkpoint inhibitors expanded from melanoma and lung cancer to include bladder cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney cancer. And between August 1, 2015, and July 31, 2016, four of the 13 new anticancer therapeutics that were approved were immunotherapies.

An additional four of those 13 approved therapeutics were targeted agents, which underscores advances made in precision medicine, Davidson says.

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