Cancer mortality continues to decline, driven by new treatments and better screening

Significant advances in cancer treatments, diagnostic tools and prevention strategies continue to reduce cancer mortality, according to a report published Wednesday by the American Association for Cancer Research.

cancer death rate Stayed it’s falling Over the past two decades, particularly in recent years, the group’s annual cancer progress report found. As a result, there are now more than 18 million cancer survivors in the US – up from 3 million in 1971.

“This is a really exciting time in cancer management,” said Dr. Midwest senior deputy director for the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Stephen Ansel, who was not involved in the report. “We see that the death rate from cancer is going down.”

President Joe Biden launches his “Cancer Moonshot” Initiative this year, and last week he New steps outlined to expand the program.

The initiative expands funding for cancer research, particularly immunotherapy.

Dr. Lisa Cousens, president of the American Association for Cancer Research, said: “You can no longer stop funding basic science with the belief that existing treatments will be good enough. Investing in basic science benefits the public enormously. ”

Using the Immune System to Fight Cancer

Coussens. highlighted the increasing use of immunotherapy As an example of how cancer treatment has improved.

“Our ability to harness or leverage the power of the immune system to fight cancer is enormous,” Cousens said. “That’s why you’re seeing more significant survival rates in many cancers, like lung and kidney cancer and melanoma.”

Immunotherapy uses a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.

“Cancer cells are vagrant, but they are your own cells. Your immune system needs to not attack your own cells,” said Dr. Larry Norton, MD, medical director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “But newer drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors allow your immune system to attack its own cancer cells.”

The Food and Drug Administration in 2011 approved the first immune checkpoint inhibitor — a drug called ipilimumab, which is used to metastatic melanoma, Since then, it has approved eight other immune checkpoint inhibitors for 18 types of cancer, according to the report.

In March, the FDA approved the first new immune checkpoint inhibitor in eight years. A medicine called raltelimab is used for melanoma.

In addition, the agency has approved seven other cancer therapeutics in the past year, including the first drug to treat uveal melanoma, the most common form of eye cancer in adults. It also expanded the use of 10 existing drugs for other cancers.

Coussens also highlighted the development of cancer drugs that work by targeting specific DNA mutations in cancer cells, but noted that more work is still needed.

“The development of molecularly targeted drugs has certainly been a game-changer, but not enough to result in real significant changes in overall survival,” she said.

catching cancer early

Also, the key to reducing cancer mortality is to catch the disease as early as possible.

“Early diagnosis is absolutely essential,” Coussens said. “A patient has the best chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis if it is caught very early in a premalignant stage or before the primary tumor has spread to other parts of the body.”

Efforts to get more and more people to be screened regularly for common cancers such as breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancers are having an effect. According to the report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s colorectal cancer control program has increased colorectal cancer screening rates by more than 12% over the past four years.

Researchers remain optimistic about so-called liquid biopsies – tests they will use to screen for cancer simple blood testUnlike traditional imaging scans or biopsies.

new Research Presented this month at ESMO 2022, a European cancer conference, showed promising data for a technique called multi-cancer early detection blood testing. Norton said scientists around the world are still honing the new diagnostic method, which could play a bigger role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the future.

Equal access remains a challenge

Despite advances in new treatments, racial disparities, managing preventable risk factors and getting people to get regular cancer screenings remain major barriers to cancer care.

black american It still has the highest mortality rate and lowest survival rate for most cancers of any race or ethnic group. Hispanic American and American Indian Alaska Natives are also largely excluded from the improvements in cancer management, which white and Asian American Pacific Islanders have.

“Not all of these advances are being spread evenly across the US population,” Norton said.

Newer cancer treatments are often only available at specialized centers, which are Difficult to reach for people who don’t live near them And don’t have the means to travel for care. Ansel said they often require longer hospital stays, which take people away from work and require extra money to make ends meet.

Minimally invasive surgical techniques that do not require an overnight stay in hospital and new therapies that can be delivered at home rather than in clinics are under development. Both can break down access barriers.

“While it is exciting to see progress, there is a lot of additional work to be done,” Ansel said. “We don’t until we beat cancer for everyone.”

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