A new report out today by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
highlights the real challenges facing researchers
working to find new
ways to diagnose, treat and even prevent cancer
. Even though there are more
cancer survivors living today than ever before – and they are living longer
than ever before – much important work still lies ahead.
|Nancy E. Davidson, M.D.|
The AACR Cancer Progress Report 2013
notes that more than 13.7 million cancer
survivors are alive today, compared to just 3 million survivors in 1971. That’s due to
cancer research and biomedical science, which have led to new drug discoveries,
innovative imaging technologies, advances in targeted therapies and anticancer immunotherapies.
But at the same time, more than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with
cancer this year, and the growing elderly population is expected to result in a
large increase of cancer deaths. Smoking
and obesity, two huge risk factors for a variety of cancers, continue to be a
All of this is happening at a time when vital research dollars through
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are getting harder and harder to come
by. An already shrinking NIH budget was decreased 5.1 percent this year due to
sequestration, resulting in a loss of $1.6 billion. The National Cancer
Institute lost $293 million. According to the AACR report, the NIH is now
funding the lowest number of research projects since 2001.
“If we are to ultimately transform scientific discoveries into therapies
that improve and save the lives of cancer patients, it is going to require an
unwavering commitment of Congress and the administration to invest in our country’s
remarkably productive cancer research and biomedical research enterprise led by
the NIH and NCI,” the AACR report states.
Here at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Insitute (UPCI), we rely
heavily on federal support of our research. In fiscal year 2012, our investigators
received more than $52 million from the NCI alone. The projects underway
at UPCI include investigations into dietary factors to prevent cancer in
preclinical models of prostate cancer, combinatorial immunotherapy for
melanoma, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents in colon cancer prevention and
work to advance our knowledge about biomarkers for the Merkel cell virus, one
of the seven viruses known to cause cancer in humans.
In April, I attended the AACR annual meeting in Washington, D.C., where
thousands came together in the “Rally for Medical Research” to highlight the
need for more, not less, research funding. It is a rally cry that is vitally important,
not only to those cancer patients already diagnosed but to those future
generations as we strive to truly live in a world that is cancer free.
Labels: cancer, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, UPMC CancerCenter