In a recent article by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the researchers highlighted basic, translational, and clinical cancer research and cancer-related population sciences in the 12th edition of its annual Cancer Progress Report.
AACR Cancer Progress Report Highlights Innovative Cancer Research That Improves, Extends, and Saves Lives. Image Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock
The extensive report covered the most recent research in cancer biology, diagnosis, early detection, treatment, and prevention, including the usage of tools like artificial intelligence (AI)-based early detection systems as well as liquid biopsies that are quickly making their way into the clinic. It also provided up-to-date cancer incidence, death rates, and survivorship statistics. The report also included the individual accounts of patients who have benefited from cutting-edge, recently licensed anticancer medicines. Additionally, it presented legislative proposals to guarantee that the United States maintained its momentum against cancer for all patients, including cancer health inequities and the physical, mental, and financial burdens endured by cancer survivors.
Ongoing progress in cancer research
The progress made over the 12 months covered by the report for the period between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022 is highlighted in the section below:
- More than 18 million Americans have a history of cancer as of January 2022. Yet, more people than ever are enjoying more prolonged and more fulfilling lives after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
- As evidenced by a decrease in cancer deaths of 2.3% each year between 2016 and 2019, the cancer mortality rate has rapidly declined in recent years.
- Eight new anticancer therapeutics were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including the first drug for uveal melanoma, the most prevalent adult form of eye cancer, and the first molecularly targeted therapy for cancer patients with Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, which is a rare inherited genetic disorder, and the first immune checkpoint inhibitor discovered in the past eight years that attacks a novel target.
- In addition, the FDA authorized two novel diagnostic imaging agents and increased the use of 10 anticancer treatments.
- Numerous FDA approvals for AI-based tools that can assist doctors in detecting tumors earlier in their progression and providing more thorough diagnoses with possibly curative outcomes are the result of intensive research and promising advancements in the application of AI in the clinic.
Challenges facing cancer research
Despite the extraordinary advancements in the battle against cancer in recent years, this complicated illness still seriously threatens people's health worldwide. In 2022, it is predicted that cancer will claim more than 600,000 lives in the United States alone.
Cancer research and patient care face many problems, which are covered in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2022.
Racial and ethnic minorities and other medically underserved U.S. groups bear a disproportionately greater incidence of cancer, a chronic public health issue. While some of these discrepancies have been better identified, understood, and addressed, more research and policy solutions are urgently required to achieve equitable progress against cancer.
The recent Supreme Court ruling and related legislative restrictions on reproductive rights in many states will significantly negatively impact access to high-quality healthcare, including for cancer patients. Since cancer therapy might end a pregnancy, delaying or refusing to begin cancer treatment could cause the disease to advance, making it harder to treat and more likely to endanger the woman's life.
Global crises affect all facets of cancer research and patient treatment, including ongoing wars and the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, researchers warn that, when combined with an aging global population, the burden of cancer might considerably increase globally in the ensuing decades.
Overall, the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2022 outlined explicit policy recommendations and urged Congress to adopt particular actions to address these and other issues and ensure continued progress for all patients. These suggestions include:
- Provision of increases in the NIH and NCI base budgets of at least $4.1 billion and $853 million, respectively, to maintain significant, ongoing, and predictable annual funding growth.
- Entirely financed programs permitted under the 21st Century Cures Act, such as the National Cancer Moonshot.
- Renew the extensive Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act and allocate at least $30 million to its execution.
- Funding by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in cancer-related initiatives.
- Expand Medicaid to guarantee that all cancer patients have fair access to high-quality, reasonably-priced healthcare.
- Tax rules should be designed to promote charitable donations to enable nonprofit cancer research groups to continue funding high-risk, high-reward research ideas and expedite the development of novel therapies and cures.