Cancer care is improving – but new therapies still need funding

Jul 19, 2017
Cancer care is improving – but new therapies still need funding

Between 1975 and 2013, the percentage of U.S. citizens surviving their cancer for at least five years increased from just under 50 percent to almost 70 percent.1

Despite this progress, there remains a huge need for effective cancer therapies. An estimated 1.6 million new cancer diagnoses will be made in 2017.2 Around 600,000 of those diagnosed will die.2

Key to combating the disease is increasing federal funding for basic oncology research. This research is then used as a basis to drive privately-invested development of new medicines.

“Fighting for federal investment in cancer research is a top priority for ACS CAN [American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network]. Volunteers in every state engage their Members of Congress to urge support for resources that are critical in advancing early detection tests and treatments for this disease,” said Chris Hansen, President of ACS CAN.

The Network supports the research of both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Many of their findings have led to breakthroughs in cancer understanding.

“We are at a moment of tremendous opportunity when it comes to developing therapies that can address even the most vexing cancers we see today.

“To fully leverage our potential to reduce suffering and death from cancer, robust and sustained federal investment in basic research is critical to provide the necessary building blocks that together with privately-funded innovation lead to advances in immunotherapy and other targeted treatments.”

A robust pipeline

The call to invest comes alongside a new report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and ACS CAN. It highlights the progress being made in the field of immuno-oncology.

The document is part of PhRMA’s new GOBOLDLY campaign which aims to accelerate innovative medicine development.

According to the report, 248 immuno-oncology treatments are in development or under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

These treatments, known as immunotherapies, help the immune system kill cancer in a comparable way to a virus or bacteria.

They represent a promising field for cancer care, but a lot still needs to be understood.

This is because immuno-oncology treatments work in diverse ways. Some can strengthen the immune response and others can help the immune system better identify and kill cancer cells.

They can also improve existing therapies, with many studies underway to test immunotherapies in combination with older medicines to help improve treatment outcomes.

“Cancer continues to be one of the most complex and vexing diseases of our time and it will impact an estimated 1.6 million Americans who will be diagnosed this year,” said Stephen Ubl, President and Chief Executive Officer of PhRMA. “As our understanding of the root causes of cancer grows, we are expanding the types of treatments we are able to bring to patients. The idea of harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer is not new but recent breakthroughs are making it a reality, bringing hope to patients.”


1SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975-2014. National Cancer Institute. Accessed June 7, 2017. Available at:

2Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. American Cancer Society. Accessed June 7, 2017. Available at:

Cancer care is improving – but new therapies still need funding

Astellas Patient Advocacy is a function within Corporate Affairs at Astellas that focuses on creating, building and maintaining third-party relationships. We serve as a conduit between Astellas and external stakeholders to help improve patient outcomes, improve access issues and address patients’ unmet needs head on.

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