Overthecourseofmycareer, cancer mortality in the United States has dropped about 1 percent each year. It is impossible to
identify one thing that has single-handedly
contributed to this decrease in the burden of
cancer. Rather, the inroads we have made are a
result of advances across the spectrum of cancer
research from genetic testing to targeted therapy
to smoking cessation.
Everything we know today about how to take
care of people with cancer is built on decades
of research. Today’s research is the foundation
for tomorrow’s standard therapy.
Research has led to so many improvements
in treatment, including new systemic therapies,
new targeted therapies, new immunotherapies,
new surgical techniques, and new approaches
to radiotherapy. All of these have been vital in
reducing the burden of cancer.
Nor should we forget the importance of early
detection and prevention strategies as simple
as smoking cessation, which is the single most
important action we can take to reduce the
burden of cancer moving forward.
In cancer, I think that sometimes we have been
accused of overpromising and underdelivering.
This is something we must avoid. But I believe
that if we took the fruits of our knowledge—what
we know today—and put those into practice
right now for all individuals across our globe,
we would make an immediate and incredible
impact on the burden of cancer.
Despite the great progress we have made
against cancer, the number of people receiving a
cancer diagnosis each year in the United States
is expected to rise over the coming decades
because of a growing and aging population.
We must strive to do better for these individuals.
Going for ward, it would be naïve of us to think
that a single discovery is going to make all the
difference because cancer is such a complex
collection of diseases. Nonetheless, I think that
over the next few years, we will see a continuing
refinement of the way we use precision medicine
to select targeted therapies, improve the way that
we apply immunotherapy, and refine surgical
and radiotherapeutic techniques. I am certain
these areas will play a substantial role in cancer
therapy over the next few years.
Over the long term, I truly believe that we are
going to see the impact of early detection and
cancer prevention strategies increase, and that
we will be able to come to the point where we can
enable the concept of personalized screening
and personalized cancer prevention.
However, continued progress is going to
require a sustained federal commitment to the
research agenda. To that end, we are very grateful
to President Obama and Vice President Biden
for putting cancer and cancer research on the
map again in the way that they have with the
National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. This is an
amazing time scientifically for us; the momentum
couldn’t be greater. So, we are delighted that they
have been able to galvanize attention about the
importance of cancer research. Of course, we
hope that ultimately, this will translate into the
crucial resources that are going to be required in
order to make an even bigger difference against
the complex diseases we call cancer.
It is my hope that the momentum created by the
National Cancer Moonshot Initiative will energize
today’s cancer researchers and also galvanize
early-career investigators to come into the field.
It is clear that we will not solve the problem of
cancer in the next several years. So, it is absolutely
critical that we bring to bear our most important
resource, early-career investigators from across
all scientific disciplines with brilliant new ideas.
The AACR is committed to bringing to the
forefront this next generation of cancer researchers,
those who are basic scientists, computational
scientists, translational scientists, clinical
scientists, population scientists, implementation
scientists, and more. This is because they reflect
the full spectrum of research expertise that we will
need to make the next big leaps against cancer.
IDSON, MD \\ AACR PRESIDENT, 2016–2017 \\
IVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH CANCER INSTITUTE, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA