By Lori Solomon, Editor, Diagnostic Testing & Emerging Technologies
Enhanced federal investment in cancer research is both necessary and supported by the American public, according to the new report Cancer Progress Report 2015: Transforming Lives Through Personalized Medicine from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). AACR says that bipartisan public support is strong for increasing federal funding of the cancer research necessary to support the next wave of discoveries to advance cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment, including those aimed at personalizing cancer care.
"Cancer genomics research is central to the precision medicine revolution that has been improving the lives of an increasing number of patients with cancer, particularly during the past five years," the report authors write. "Increased deployment of cancer genomics research promises not only to increase the number of potential targets for the development of novel precision anticancer therapeutics, but also to identify markers of response and resistance to all forms of treatment."
The report, released Sept. 16, serves to both educate the American public and further AACR’s advocacy efforts in Congress. It highlights the progress made in the last year towards improving cancer care and calls for increased funding for "robust, sustained" budgetary increases of at least 7 percent for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in fiscal year 2016 and thereafter to further future advances. In conjunction with the annual report, AACR also released the results of a new national survey of American voters demonstrating overwhelming support for federal funding of cancer research.
Among the progress cited in the past year is that the FDA approved nine new anticancer therapeutics and new uses for six previously approved anticancer therapeutics, including four targeted therapies, as well as one new cancer-screening test. AACR says that the number of FDA-approved molecularly targeted anticancer therapeutics more than doubled in the past five years, reaching 52 as of July 31.
The survey, conducted in July by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies, included a national cross section of 1,000 registered voters. Results show that the majority of voters (five of every six) believe that progress is being made against cancer, but that there is overwhelming bipartisan support (three of four voters) for increasing federal funding of medical research. ACCR says that in the United States the estimated direct medical costs of cancer care will rise to $156 billion in 2020, which pales in comparison to the total NCI budget of $7 billion in 2020 (with AACR’s called for budget increases implemented).
“Unfortunately, at this time of great excitement, the decline in NIH funding that we have seen since 2004 threatens the pace of progress and undermines the promise of cures for patients," says José Baselga, MD, PhD, president of the AACR, in a statement. “It is extremely heartening to see from the results of the survey that most American voters have the same message for Congress as the AACR—increasing funding for medical research should be a top national priority.”