Research is the foundation of progress against the many
diseases we call cancer. It improves survival and quality of
life for people around the world because it is the driving
force behind every advance across the clinical cancer
care continuum and every legislative action designed to
improve public health.
Each advance is the culmination of a complex, multifaceted
process that takes many years of hard work by individuals
from all segments of the biomedical research community
(see sidebar on The Biomedical Research Community:
Driving Progress Together, p. 9).
Among the advances made across the clinical cancer care
continuum from August 1, 2016, to July 31, 2017, are the
nine new anticancer therapeutics approved for use by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (see Table 1,
p. 10). During this period, the FDA also approved a new
optical imaging agent to help visualize cancerous tissue
during surgery and new uses for eight previously approved
Advances such as those listed in Table 1 (see p. 10) are
helping drive down U.S. cancer death rates and increase
the number of children and adults who survive a cancer
diagnosis ( 2-4) (see Figure 1, p. 11). In fact, the age-adjusted
U.S. cancer death rate declined by 25 percent from 1991
to 2014, a reduction that translates into 2. 1 million cancer
deaths avoided ( 2). In addition, the U.S. 5-year relative
survival rate for all cancers combined rose from 49 percent
in the mid-1970s to 69 percent in 2013, which is the last
year for which we have data ( 5).
The research that drives progress against cancer is made
possible by investments from governments, philanthropic
individuals and organizations, and the private sector the
world over. In the United States, federal investments in
biomedical research and government agencies conducting
research, such as the FDA and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), are of particular
importance. Most U.S. government investments in
biomedical research are administered through the 27
institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). The largest component of the NIH is the National
Cancer Institute (NCI), which is the federal government’s
principal agency for cancer research and training.
CANCER: AN ONGOING
Although we have made incredible progress against cancer,
this collection of diseases continues to be an immense
public health challenge worldwide (see sidebar on Cancer:
A Global Challenge, p. 12). In the United States, it is
predicted that 600,920 people will die from some type of
cancer in 2017 ( 2) (see Table 2, p. 13). This makes cancer
the second most common cause of death in the United
States after heart disease.
• In the United States, the age-adjusted
overall cancer death rate is decreasing.
• The reduction in the U.S. cancer death rate
from 1991 to 2014 translates into 2. 1 million
cancer deaths avoided.
• In 2017, 600,920 people are expected
to die from cancer in the United States,
making it the second most common cause
• Not all segments of the U.S. population
have benefited equally from advances
• It is projected that the number of new
cancer cases diagnosed each year in the
United States will almost double by 2030.
• The cost of cancer is enormous,
both in the United States and globally.
In this section you will learn: