The annual AACR Cancer Progress Report, currently in its thirteenth edition, is a cornerstone of AACR’s educational efforts to disseminate the knowledge of groundbreaking advances against cancer to the American public, policymakers, and the scientific community.
The AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023 continues the tradition of documenting the unprecedented progress against cancer and underscoring how continued investments in cancer research will ensure that treating and curing all cancers is within our reach. Cancer-related deaths are continuing to decline at a steady pace. Breakthroughs in discovery science, and innovative technologies that enable them, are revolutionizing the ways we prevent, detect, and treat cancer. Advances in understanding the molecular underpinnings of cancer at a single cell level are unraveling the complexities of the disease. Precision medicine is expanding our ability to successfully treat previously intractable types of cancer. Immunotherapy, the exciting new frontier in precision medicine, is harnessing the power of the immune system to treat more types of cancer.
The result is an astounding 3.8 million lives saved from cancer since 1991, and more than 18 million cancer survivors living in the U.S. as of January 2022. Just in the 12 months covered by this report (August 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023), FDA approved 14 new anticancer therapeutics and expanded the use of 12 previously approved anticancer drugs to treat new types of cancer. The remarkable strides in cancer immunotherapy are exemplified by the effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in treating different types of cancer. In January 2013, there was only one FDA-approved ICI to treat just one cancer type. In a decade since, and as of July 31, 2023, there were 11 FDA-approved ICIs. There is at least one ICI approved for treating at least one of 20 different types of cancer and any type of solid tumor characterized by the presence of certain specific molecular characteristics. As we envision a future where all cancers are successfully treatable and have a higher likelihood of being cured, new frontiers in cancer science and medicine, such as the use of artificial intelligence and liquid biopsy, and the development of vaccines to treat cancer, are bringing excitement within the cancer care community for what is possible in reducing the burden of cancer.
As we celebrate the contributions of medical research to the current knowledge of how we detect and treat cancer and applaud all stakeholders in cancer research and patient care whose tireless work has made progress against cancer possible, we must also realize that much work still needs to be done.
Achieving the goal of health equity where successful treatments for cancers are accessible to all populations, will not be possible without addressing systemic and socioeconomic inequities that place a disproportionate burden of cancer on medically underserved populations. We must implement public health policies to raise the awareness of risk factors that increase an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer, so that, among other risk factors, the rising rates of obesity in the U.S. population and e-cigarette usage among U.S. youth can be reduced. We must enact evidence-based interventions to remove barriers that prevent individuals from the receiving recommended cancer screening and/or follow-up testing, so that cancers are detected at the earliest possible stage when it is easier to successfully treat them. We must inform and educate patients with cancer about the benefits of participating in clinical trials, so that the findings of these studies have the potential to benefit all patients. We must ensure that quality health care is available and accessible to everyone, so that patients with cancer and their caregivers are not adversely affected by the financial burden from a cancer diagnosis. With the continued resolve of all stakeholders, and consistent Congressional support for medical research, these challenges are addressable, and mitigating them will have a profoundly positive and long-term effect on the physical, psychosocial, and financial health of our nation.
Investments in NIH and NCI over the past two decades have yielded an immense return, as is evidenced by the fact that the $36.68 billion dollars NIH awarded in funding during the fiscal year 2022 supported more than half a million jobs and generated nearly $97 billion in economic activity across the nation. Based on the evidence presented in the report, AACR urges Congress to continue its unwavering and historically bipartisan support to make medical research a long-term strategic priority for our nation (see AACR Call to Action). All stakeholders in the cancer research and care community can seize today’s unprecedented scientific opportunities to advance the frontiers of cancer science and medicine for the benefit of all patients with cancer.Next Section: AACR Call to Action Previous Section: Advancing the Future of Cancer Research Through Evidence-based Policies