4 AACR CANCER PROGRESS REPORT 2016
expected to rise dramatically in the coming decades if new
and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat
cancer are not developed. In the United States alone, the
number of cancer deaths is predicted to rise from 595,690
in 2016 to 946,833 in 2030.
Fueling the projected increase in the number of cancer
deaths will be a rise in the number of cancer diagnoses,
which will, in turn, drive up the costs of cancer. In fact, it
is estimated that the direct medical costs of cancer care
in the United States will rise to $156 billion in 2020, from
nearly $125 billion in 2010. When these costs are compared
to the total NCI budget for fiscal year 2016, which is just
$5.21 billion, it is clear that the research powering progress
against cancer is a vital national investment.
Decades of research have led to the identification of
numerous factors that increase a person’s risk of developing
cancer. Given that exposure to many of these factors can
be eliminated or reduced, it is clear that many cases of
cancer could be prevented. In fact, it is estimated that
about half of cancer cases worldwide are attributable to
Most notable among the preventable causes of cancer are
tobacco use, obesity, lack of physical activity, exposure
to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning devices, and
failure to use or comply with interventions that treat or
prevent infection with cancer-associated pathogens, such
as cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).
Although the development and implementation of public
education and policy initiatives designed to eliminate
or reduce exposure to preventable causes of cancer have
reduced cancer morbidity and mortality in the United
States, some individuals continue to expose themselves
to these risk factors. Thus, a great deal more research
and more resources are needed to understand how best
to help these individuals eliminate or reduce their risk
of some cancers.
Not all cases of cancer are attributable to preventable
causes. As a result, cancer screening tests that can identify
a precancer or cancer early in development, when it can
be more easily and successfully treated, are an important
part of health care.
Determining whether broad implementation of a
cancer screening test across the population can decrease
deaths from the screened cancer and provide benefits
that outweigh the potential risks of undergoing the
test requires extensive research and careful analysis
of the data generated. Independent groups of experts
rigorously evaluate data indicating whether cancer
screening tests meet these two criteria before putting
forth recommendations about the use of the tests. Not all
groups of experts give the same weighting to all the benefits
and potential risks, which can result in differences in
recommendations from distinct groups. These differences
highlight the areas in which more research is needed.
Evidence-based cancer screening recommendations are
only one consideration when a person makes decisions
about which cancers he or she should be screened for and
when. A person’s own unique risks for developing each
type of cancer, his or her tolerance of the potential risks of
a screening test, and whether the test is covered by his or
her health insurance are also important considerations.
Therefore, every individual should consult with his or her
health care practitioners to develop a cancer prevention
and early detection plan tailored to his or her situation.
As we develop and implement new strategies that pair
increased molecular understanding of cancer development
with knowledge of an individual’s unique cancer risk
profile, we will move closer to a ne w era of precision cancer
prevention and early detection.
The hard work of individuals throughout the biomedical
research cycle constantly powers the translation of
discoveries to advances across the clinical cancer care
continuum. These advances are improving survival and
quality of life for people around the world.
As a result of research advances, the FDA approved 13
new therapeutics for treating certain types of cancer, one
new cancer screening test, one new diagnostic test, two
new diagnostic imaging agents, and a new medical device
in the 12 months leading up to July 31, 2016. During this
time, the FDA also approved new uses for 11 previously
approved anticancer therapeutics.
of U.S. lung cancer cases could
be prevented through elimination
of cigarette smoking ( 27).