SIDEBAR: Marking 40 Years of Cancer Progress

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It’s been 40 years since President Richard Nixon declared, “The time has come in America when the same kind of concentrated effort that split the atom and took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dread disease,” and later signed into law the National Cancer Act of 1971. Passage of the law enabled the allocation of increased federal funding for research, which has resulted in extended survival rates and breakthroughs in treatments aimed at specific molecular pathways of cancer cells.

Some of the milestones reached in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer over the past 4 decades include the following achievements:

  • Cancer survivorship has increased from 3 million to 12 million.
  • Early detection through routine screenings has helped to increase 5-year survival rates for breast cancer to over 90%.
  • Better therapies have increased survival rates for some childhood cancers to over 90%.
  • Advances in genetics have led to the development of over 30 molecularly targeted drugs that attack cancerous tumors while sparing healthy cells

For more information, visit ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net, an interactive website that chronicles advances in cancer care through an easy-to-read decade-by-decade timeline. The site is updated regularly to include the latest progress in cancer research as well as links to government agencies overseeing federal cancer research and drug approval. ■

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