We are at an inflection point in cancer research. We now have the scientific knowledge, cutting-edge technologies, and capability to deliver unprecedented advances to cancer patients. Ensuring that medical research remains a high priority for our nation’s policy makers is vital if we are to maintain the momentum against cancer.
AACR Cancer Progress Report 2021: Contents
The annual AACR Cancer Progress Report to Congress and the American public is a cornerstone of the AACR’s educational and advocacy efforts. The report highlights how research continues to transform lives and how support for biomedical research is vital if we are to accelerate the pace of progress against cancer for the benefit of individuals everywhere.
Years of advocacy by patients and survivors of cancer, researchers, and physicians led to the passage of the National Cancer Act, which launched a national commitment to making progress against cancer by providing the NCI with broad authorities and innovative mechanisms to drive our understanding of this devastating collection of diseases.
In the United States, the overall age-adjusted cancer death rates have decreased by 31 percent from 1991 to 2018, a reduction that translates into 3.2 million cancer deaths avoided. Advances in basic, clinical, translational, and population sciences are the catalysts that drive progress against cancer.
Cancer is not one disease, but a collection of diseases that arise when the processes which control normal cell growth, division, and life span go awry. The more we know about cancer initiation and progression, the more precisely and effectively we can prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.
In the United States, four out of 10 cancer cases are associated with preventable risk factors, including tobacco or alcohol use, poor diet, physical inactivity, exposure to UV radiation, and infection with certain pathogens.
Breakthroughs in understanding how cancer develops and progresses are facilitating the development of cancer screening tests that can detect cancer at its earliest stage before it has spread to other sites.
Breakthroughs across the spectrum of cancer science and medicine are improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients. These advances are driven by concerted efforts from stakeholders working throughout the medical research cycle.
As of 2019, more than five percent of the U.S. population is living with a history of cancer. Each cancer survivor faces a unique set of challenges; additional research is needed to develop new technologies and intervention strategies for coordinated care that meets their individual needs.
The next generation of biomedical technologies will accelerate the pace at which we understand, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer.
Policies and federally funded public health programs can improve public health and reduce cancer risk while also ensuring that individuals have access to preventive services, screening, and coverage for cancer treatment.
The extraordinary advances against cancer detailed in this report were made possible by investment in biomedical research. To continue this progress, the AACR calls on Congress to provide robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding increases for NIH, NCI, FDA, and CDC in FY 2022 and beyond.
The AACR is grateful to the members of the Steering Committee for the expert guidance in the development of this report.