Forty years ago today President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, allocating $1.5 billion over three years for cancer research.
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has written an excellent piece on their blog about where the field has come since 1971. They write:
Forty years later, the War on Cancer can claim countless successes against one of the most resilient and recalcitrant enemies mankind has faced.
Some cancers that were once almost invariably fatal, such as pediatric leukemia, are now cured in the vast majority of cases. In kidney cancer, the five-year survival rate – the percentage of patients alive five years after diagnosis – has increased from about 50 percent in 1971 to more than 70 percent today. In colon cancer, the rate has increased from 52 to more than 66 percent over the same time period. Death rates for cancers of the breast, liver, lung, prostate, and several other organs and tissues have been declining for the past 10-20 years.
Despite all the strides over the past 40 years, cancer remains one of the biggest health challenges we face. The good news is that advances in the understanding of cancer at the basic, molecular level have positioned us to make even greater progress in the years ahead.
CIRM is playing an active role in the ongoing search for better cancer therapies. Of our disease-focused awards, cancer makes up 22% of our funding (you can see charts of our funding allocations here).
CIRM has eight awards working towards new therapies for cancers including leukemias and solid tumors such as those that form in the colon, brain and ovaries. Of those, four projects (two in leukemia and two in brain tumors) are part of our disease team programs, which all have the goal of submitting an application to the Food and Drug Administration by 2014 to begin a clinical trial. You can see a list of all our therapy development projects with links to those project descriptions in our online portfolio.
Although we can’t know in advance which of these projects will be successful, CIRM is proud to be part of the ongoing search for new cancer therapies.