Even in the Face of Progress, Cancer Remains
a Significant Problem
Unfortunately, advances have not been uniform for all types of cancer (see Table 2, p. 6). The five-year survival rates for some cancers, such as the most aggressive form of brain cancer (glioblastoma
multiforme), and pancreatic, liver, and lung cancers, have not improved significantly over the past four-plus decades and remain very low, at 4 percent, 6 percent, 14 percent, and 16 percent, respectively
( 1, 4). In contrast, the five-year survival rates for women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and for
children diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia have increased from 75 percent and 58 percent,
respectively, to 90 percent or more since the mid-1970s ( 1). Moreover, advances have not been identical
for all patients with a certain type of cancer, nor is the burden of cancer distributed evenly across the
population, due to numerous interrelated factors.
Despite significant improvements in survival from many cancers, it is estimated that 580,350 Americans
will die from some form of cancer in 2013 ( 1). Cancer will account for nearly one in every four deaths,
making it the second most common cause of disease-related death in the United States. Unless more
effective preventive interventions, early detection tools, and treatments can be developed, it will not
be long before cancer is the leading cause of death for all Americans, as it already is among the U.S.
Hispanic population ( 5).
Figure 1: Working Together Saves Lives.
Progress against cancer has been and
continues to be the result of the dedicated
efforts of many individuals, agencies, and
organizations. These include academic
scientists and clinical researchers from a wide
variety of specialties (microscope), citizen
advocates and philanthropic organizations
(megaphone), government (U.S. Capitol),
regulatory agencies (FDA symbol), the
biotechnology and pharmaceutical
industries (pills), physicians
(stethoscope), diagnostics companies
(notepad), funding agencies and
(National Institutes of Health
building), and payers (health
insurance card). Central to
transformative advances against
cancer are the patients and
Almost one out of every two
people born today will be
diagnosed with cancer ( 1).
1 out of 2