Report sees continued advances in war against cancer

September 17, 2013 by Kathleen Doheny, Healthday Reporter
Report sees continued advances in war against cancer
Millions more survive today, and experts say science is paying off.

(HealthDay)—Nearly 14 million people in the United States, or one in 23, are now cancer survivors.

In comparison, only 3 million people, or one in 69, were in 1971, according to the third annual cancer progress report, issued Tuesday, by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

While there are increasing numbers of cancer patients because some cancers are more common with age, "there is a large increase in the number of survivors," said AACR President Dr. Charles Sawyers. "That's a return on our investment in cancer research."

Sawyers, who chaired the report writing committee, is also an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and chair of the human oncology and pathogenesis program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City.

Other noteworthy advances, Sawyers said, is the approval of 11 new anticancer drugs in the past year alone, which he called "amazing." Also of note is the evolution of immune system modifiers for cancer, such as drugs for certain lymphomas and , that rev up the immune system to fight the cancer. "Science is paying off, finally," he said.

From 1990 through 2012, more than 1 million lives have been saved from cancer, according to the report.

"The progress is astonishing," said Dr. Cy Stein, a distinguished professor and chair of and experimental therapeutics at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif.

"Things have been getting better. That is the truth of this report," said Stein, who is also deputy director of clinical research at City of Hope. He was not involved in the report.

Among the successes noted in the report are that the five-year survival rates for women diagnosed with have increased from 75 percent in the mid-1970s to 90 percent or more now.

For children diagnosed with , the five-year survival rates have increased from 58 percent to 90 percent or greater during the same time period.

But the progress has not been uniform for all cancers. For instance, the five-year survival rates for some cancers, including the aggressive brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme, as well as liver, lung and pancreatic cancers, have not improved much over more than 40 years, with of 4 percent to 16 percent.

Despite the progress, more than 1.6 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year and more than 580,000 deaths are expected from cancer in 2013. Experts say the number will increase dramatically in the next two decades, largely due to the aging of the population, and cancer becoming more common with age.

Most cancers are detected in those age 65 and above, and this part of the population is growing quickly.

However, up to 50 percent of cancer deaths are related to preventable causes, including smoking, being obese or overweight, being sedentary and eating a poor diet, the report noted. "The average person would be surprised by how much cancer is preventable, " Sawyers said.

While smoking's link to cancer is well known, he said that many people remain unaware of the obesity-cancer connection. Obesity increases the risk for many cancers, such as esophageal, colorectal, endometrial, kidney and pancreatic cancers, and breast cancers in women past menopause.

Continued progress is jeopardized by the slashing of research funds, the report said. Earlier this year, the U.S. National Institutes of Health's budget was cut by $1.6 billion—or more than 5 percent.

While the report covers a lot of ground, City of Hope's Stein said the authors didn't emphasize an important fact: "That people with cancer live better."

"A lot of times, even those with advanced on therapy are able to engage in everyday activities," Stein said. "A lot of that is [due to] the research that we did a long time ago that has been paying off for a long time."

Explore further: Number of cancer survivors expected to increase to 18 million by 2022

More information: To learn more about cancer prevention through living healthy, visit the American Cancer Society.

Related Stories

Number of cancer survivors expected to increase to 18 million by 2022

March 27, 2013
The American Association for Cancer Research released its second Annual Report on Cancer Survivorship in the United States in advance of the AACR Annual Meeting 2013, which will be held in Washington, D.C., April 6-10.

Total cancer death rate drops but progress slow on 'forgotten cancers'

August 20, 2013
Australia's mortality rate for all cancers has dropped 28% in 20 years, new figures show, but progress has been slow in the fight against thyroid and pancreatic cancer, while the death rate from liver cancer has skyrocketed.

Cancer rates vary widely by state, race, CDC reports

February 21, 2013
(HealthDay)—The latest U.S. cancer statistics find that 1.5 million new cases of invasive cancer were diagnosed among Americans in 2009, with more men than women developing malignancies and blacks at higher risk for cancer ...

Report estimates nearly 18 million cancer survivors in US by 2022

June 14, 2012
The number of Americans with a history of cancer, currently estimated to be 13.7 million, will grow to almost 18 million by 2022, according to a first-ever report by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the National ...

Cancer mortality down 20 percent from 1991 peak

January 17, 2013
Jan. 17, 2013–As of 2009, the overall death rate for cancer in the United States had declined 20 percent from its peak in 1991, translating to the avoidance of approximately 1.2 million deaths from cancer, 152,900 of these ...

A healthy lifestyle helps you survive bowel cancer

August 30, 2013
Women diagnosed with colorectal cancer who are physically active, don't smoke and aren't overweight or obese have dramatically improved survival rates, according to a new study by the UWA-affiliated Western Australian Institute ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.