Cancer mortality continues to decline, but challenges remain

By Amerigo Allegretto, staff writer

September 23, 2022 -- Cancer mortality continues to decline in the U.S., one of the many findings in a new report issued by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Despite the decline, many challenges remain in the fight against cancer.

The 12th edition of AACR's annual Cancer Progress Report chronicles how cancer research and cancer-related population sciences, primarily supported by federal investments in the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), remain important to improving health and saving lives.

Among the highlights from this edition's report are the following:

  • There has been a decline in the rate of cancer mortality in recent years, reflected by a 2.3% decrease in cancer deaths every year between 2016 and 2019.
  • More than 18 million people with a history of cancer are living in the U.S. as of January 2022.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved eight new anticancer therapeutics. These include the first drug to treat uveal melanoma, the most common form of eye cancer in adults; the first molecularly targeted therapeutic for treatment of cancer patients with Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, a rare inherited genetic disorder; and the first new immune checkpoint inhibitor against a novel target in eight years.

However, the AACR also outlined challenges that remain. Among these include persistent disparities in cancer health, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions having "detrimental" effects on access to quality healthcare, and global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic impacting cancer research and patient care.

The AACR Cancer Progress Report states several policy recommendations and calls on Congress to take specific actions. These include continuing to support funding growth for NIH and NCI budgets, full funding for initiatives authorized in the 21st Century Cares Act, and expanding Medicaid, among other actions.

The full report can be found on the AACR website.

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