AACR Call to Action

Since FY 2015, the medical research community has been fortunate to receive eight consecutive years of funding increases for NIH. These funding increases have coincided with a decline in cancer mortality in the United States. Between 2015 and 2019, overall cancer death rates declined by 2.1 percent per year in both men and women. The drop in cancer mortality within this period comes amid a longer, multidecade trend towards fewer cancer deaths. As of 2020, the overall cancer mortality rate had decreased by 33 percent from its highest level in 1991 (2)Siegel RL, et al. (2023) CA Cancer J Clin, 73: 17. [LINK NOT AVAILABLE]. In addition to breakthroughs in therapies, these declines can be attributed to improvements in cancer prevention and early detection.

As cancer mortality rates decline, the number of cancer survivors is estimated to increase to 26 million by 2040 (798)National Cancer Institute. Statistics and Graphs | Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). Accessed: July 5, 2023. . Forty-seven percent of cancer survivors have multiple chronic conditions (799)Jiang C, et al. (2022) Cancer, 128: 828. [LINK NOT AVAILABLE], which leads to poorer quality of life and worse cancer outcomes. Thus, policymakers must support cancer survivors by enacting legislation to provide survivors of cancer the resources they need.

Further action is also needed to address the use of tobacco products. While the percentage of United States adults who use combustible tobacco products is at a record low, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death
in the U.S., contributing to nearly one in five deaths (800)Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Accessed: July 5, 2023. . Additionally, a growing number of American youth and young adults are taking up the use of electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes still emit many harmful chemicals with unknown long-term health impacts. As the number of young adults who use e-cigarettes continues to grow, it is prudent that policymakers continue to support smoking prevention and cessation initiatives and programs to reduce use of e-cigarettes.

The new generation of therapies including novel immunotherapeutics, antibody-drug conjugates, combination therapies, cell therapies, and proteolysis targeting chimera technology has the potential to transform cancer treatment. However, strong federal investments in medical research, including through the newly created ARPA-H, are essential for discovering these treatments as well as to ensure that they become readily available to all patient populations. Therefore, policymakers must continue to provide robust, sustained, and predictable funding increases for NIH and NCI to ensure greater availability of promising cancer treatments.

Additionally, federal investments in medical research must continue to focus on reducing health inequities. Stronger investments in NIH and NCI can boost diversity in the cancer research workforce and enhance clinical trial diversity. Furthermore, higher appropriations for cancer programs at CDC can improve health equity by improving the availability of cancer screening and prevention programs across diverse communities.

AACR urges Congress to continue to support robust, sustained, and predictable funding growth for the federal medical research and health programs vital to the fight against cancer. We call on Congress to:

  • Increase the FY 2024 base budgets of the NIH and NCI by at least $3.465 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively, for total funding levels of $50.924 billion for NIH and $9.988 billion for NCI.
  • Provide $1.7 billion in dedicated funding for Cancer Moonshot activities in FY 2024 across NCI, FDA, and CDC with the assurance that Moonshot funding will supplement rather than supplant NIH funding in FY 2024.
  • Appropriate at least $472.4 million in FY 2024 appropriations for the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention to support comprehensive cancer control, central cancer registries, and screening and awareness programs for specific cancers.
  • Allocate $50 million in funding for the Oncology Center of Excellence at FDA in FY 2024 to provide regulators with the capable staff and necessary tools to conduct expedited review of cancer-related medical products.

By following through on these recommendations, Congress will help accelerate the rate of discovery, solidify our competitive edge in advancing science, and create a vital pathway for young scientists to contribute to future advances in cancer research. Ultimately, this will improve our nation’s health, including the lives of the millions of individuals who have been touched by cancer.

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