More than 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States this year. Although that number is daunting, World Cancer Day reminds us that tremendous progress in the prevention and treatment of cancer has been made over the years, and researchers around the globe are working together to advance cancer care for patients.
We now know that cancer, once thought of as a singular condition, is actually more than 200 unique diseases. And researchers are continuing to better understand the inner workings and underlying mechanisms of cancers every day. Thanks to advances in treatment, prevention and diagnosis, we’ve seen a 23 percent decrease in the cancer death rate since its peak in 1991 and the chances a cancer patient will live five years or more has increased by 39 percent across all types of cancer. Today, there are nearly 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States.
But with cancer presently accounting for nearly one out of every four deaths in the United States, the fight isn’t over.
The biopharmaceutical industry plays a leading role in driving progress against cancer. For decades, we have been investing billions in the development of new therapies and working collaboratively across the cancer ecosystem on cancer research. Today, there are more than 800 medicines and vaccines in clinical testing for cancer. These treatments, 73 percent of which have the potential to be personalized medicines, are providing hope to people around the world – including patients like Matt who was diagnosed with advanced non-small lung cancer, and as a result of advancements made in cancer research, he is defying the odds and managing his disease.
In recent weeks, President Obama and Vice President Biden have launched the cancer “moonshot” to accelerate progress against cancer. We’ve also seen continued focus from Congress on biomedical innovation to accelerate new treatments and cures for patients, as seen in the 21st Century Cures Act and the Senate HELP Committee’s ongoing effort to spur medical innovation. We applaud these efforts and our member companies are eager to work together to advance innovative cancer care for patients.
As we reflect on World Cancer Day, we are energized by the progress we have made against cancer and have tremendous hope for the future.
Check out an interview with Marisa Dolled-Filhart, Ph.D., director of pathology and companion diagnostics at Merck, on her work as part of the oncology team. And learn more about the biopharmaceutical industry’s efforts in the fight against cancer at www.fromhopetocures.org/fighting-cancer.