The AACR Call to Action

The extraordinary advances against cancer detailed in this report were made possible by the dedicated efforts of a broad coalition of researchers, clinicians, cancer survivors, patient advocates, and policy makers. Decades of investment in medical research have fueled new discoveries, making it possible to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat, and cure many types of cancer that previously lacked effective treatment options. These advances are driving down overall U.S. cancer incidence and death rates and increasing the number of individuals who are surviving longer after a cancer diagnosis.

Thanks to the remarkable bipartisan efforts of Congress, NIH funding has increased by nearly $13 billion or 42 percent from FY 2015 to FY 2021. These significant investments make it possible for researchers across the country to continue making advances against cancer and many other diseases.

Despite this progress, much more work needs to be done on behalf of those living with cancer and those who will be diagnosed in the future. For example, there are still no effective treatments for many of the over 200 known types of cancer. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on medical research and cancer care, bringing many critical projects to a halt, delaying screening and treatments, and diverting resources to the immediate need of responding to COVID-19. The adverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years and perhaps decades to come.

As the United States recovers from the devastating toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of the enormous value of medical research in overall public health. Decades of investment in basic, translational, and clinical research have enabled scientists to develop diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines for this novel disease at a pace never seen before. This robust approach to medical research has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives from COVID-19 in the United States alone. Cancer researchers were uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and have played a vital role in combating the pandemic while continuing their quest to cure cancer. With so many promising opportunities ahead of us it is critical that we maintain our momentum of progress against cancer.

AACR deeply appreciates the commitment of Congress to expediting progress against cancer and other diseases through robust funding increases for NIH, as well as to supporting the critical regulatory science work at FDA and public health programs of CDC.

Therefore, AACR urges Congress to:

  • Continue to support robust, sustained, and predictable growth for NIH and NCI by providing increases in their FY 2022 base budgets of at least $3.2 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively, for a total funding level of $46.1 billion for NIH and $7.6 billion for NCI.
  • Ensure that the funding designated through the 21st Century Cures Act for targeted initiatives, including the National Cancer Moonshot, is fully appropriated in FY 2022 and is supplemental to the overall increase in the NIH base budget.
  • Provide at least $10 billion for NIH in emergency supplemental funding to restart research and clinical trials that have been put on hold due to the pandemic, as proposed in the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act of 2021.
  • Provide $50 million for the third year of the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative and no less than $30 million for the continued implementation of the Childhood Cancer STAR Act.
  • Support the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) designed to prioritize high-risk, high-reward approaches to prevent, diagnose, and cure diseases such as cancer.
  • Support FDA’s critical regulatory science initiatives and advance the development and regulation of oncology products by providing an increase of at least $343 million in discretionary budget authority in FY 2022, as recommended in President Biden’s budget proposal.
  • Support vital CDC Cancer Prevention and Control Programs with total funding of at least $559 million. This includes funding for comprehensive cancer control, cancer registries, and screening and awareness programs for specific cancers.

If we hope to reach the day when cancer is no longer a major health threat to our nation’s citizens, Congress must provide robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding increases for NIH, NCI, FDA, and CDC in FY 2022 and beyond. These investments will help us transform cancer care, increase survivorship, spur economic growth, and maintain the position of the United States as a global leader in scientific and medical research and specifically in cancer research. Most importantly this will continue to bring lifesaving cures to the millions of people worldwide whose lives are touched by cancer.