Turns out there is one thing that (most) Americans can agree on – stopping cancer. Nearly three in four American voters favor increasing federal funding for cancer research, according to the results of a new national survey conducted on behalf of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Hopefully, support for federal funds for cancer research will be raised in the Republican Presidential Debates on CNN tonight.
The survey results were released today along with the AACR’s fifth annual Cancer Progress Report. The report highlights how federally funded research can power progress against cancer and urges Congress and the administration to implement a strategy for providing annual budget 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, counteracting the decline in NIH funding that has occurred since 2004.
The national survey, which was conducted this July by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies, talked to a national cross section of 1,000 registered voters.
Key results from the survey include:
- Five out of every six voters recognize that progress is being made against cancer.
- More than eight out of every 10 American voters (81 percent) favor using taxpayer dollars to fund medical research; this support for federally funded medical research is bipartisan.
- By five to one, voters say they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports making the fight against cancer a national priority by providing sustained increases in federal funding for cancer research.
- More than five in six voters (85 percent) recognize that progress is being made against cancer.
- Among diseases and other major health issues, voters in all age groups are most worried about getting cancer.
- Nearly nine in 10 Americans (88 percent) know someone who has had cancer; almost half (47 percent) have a close friend or family member who currently has cancer.
“As we highlight in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2015, we are making significant progress against cancer,” said José Baselga, MD, PhD, president of the AACR and physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “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.
“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,” added Baselga. Now they just have to get the politicians to pay attention.
The annual AACR Cancer Progress Report is a cornerstone of the AACR’s efforts to increase public understanding of cancer, to highlight the importance of cancer research to improve public health, and to advocate for increased federal funding for the NIH, NCI, and FDA.
The AACR Cancer Progress Report 2015 details how federally funded research is improving lives, like the lives of the 13 individuals featured in the report who have shared their experiences with cancer. It also contains a special section showcasing the remarkable advances made against cancer in the five years of publishing the report.
Highlights of the Progress Report includes:
- The U.S. five-year survival rate for all cancers combined increased from 49 percent in the mid-1970s to 68 percent in 2010.
- Between Aug. 1, 2014, and July 31, 2015, the FDA approved nine new anticancer therapeutics and new uses for six previously approved anticancer therapeutics.
- During the same period, one new cancer prevention vaccine and one new cancer screening test received FDA approvals, as did a previously approved imaging agent.
- Research discoveries continue to advance immunotherapy. Four of the nine new anticancer therapeutics are immunotherapy treatments.
- Cancer genomics research is the foundation for precision medicine. The number of FDA-approved molecularly targeted anticancer therapeutics more than doubled in the five years of publishing the report.
The report emphasizes that although extraordinary advances are being made against cancer, the disease continues to exert an immense personal and economic toll, both nationally and internationally. Also, cancer is primarily a disease of aging and because the portion of the U.S. population age 65 and older is expanding, the burden of cancer is expected to grow in the coming decades.
Costs of cancer and deaths from cancer are rising, according to the report:
- More than 589,000 people in the United States are projected to die from cancer in 2015.
- Cancer is the No. 1 cause of disease-related death among U.S. children.
- The number of new cases of cancer in the United States is predicted to rise from 1.7 million in 2015 to 2.4 million in 2035.
- It is estimated that the direct medical costs of cancer care in the United States in 2010 were nearly $125 billion, and that these costs will rise to $156 billion in 2020.
The report states that the increasing economic and personal burden of cancer underscores the need for more research to develop new approaches to cancer prevention and treatment, and calls for Congress and the administration to provide the NIH, NCI, and FDA with annual funding increases that are robust, sustained, and predictable.
“We have made spectacular progress against cancer, which has saved the lives of millions of individuals in the United States and around the world,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “However, without increased federal funding for cancer research, we will not be able to realize the promise of recent discoveries and technological advances. Our national survey shows that this issue is a priority for most American voters, and the AACR is committed to advocating for increased federal funding for the lifesaving research that brings hope to cancer patients everywhere.”
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Lindsey McCoy MPA, is an Executive Medical Recruiter and former CEO in the not for profit sector.