In the United States, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men will develop cancer in their lifetime.
So when the American Cancer Society recently reported that the cancer death rate fell 2.2% from 2016-2017 – the largest single-year decline in cancer mortality ever – it got people’s attention.
These historic declines were attributed to reduced smoking rates and to advances in lung cancer treatment. Newly developed therapies for melanoma of the skin have also helped prolong life for many people with cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
There have been several important advances in diagnosing and treating lung cancer over the past 10 years. These include new imaging technologies, less invasive surgical approaches, and immunotherapy - enlisting patient T cells to kill their tumors.
Similar treatment advances have reversed trends in melanoma. Most notably the approval by the FDA of 2 new therapies, ipilimumab and vemurafenib, for metastatic melanoma.
These successes shine a bright light on the clinical research industry, and the tremendous contributions it has made to extending and improving human lives.
For so many of us, working in this industry is personal. Everyone has a relative or friend whose life has been enhanced by a new drug, innovative therapy, or experimental clinical trial. It’s ‘why’ we do what we do.
Cancer now has a 26-year-long trend in declining mortality rates. It is estimated that about 29 million deaths from cancer have been avoided.
However, our mission continues, and there is more work to do. As more Americans put on excess pounds, the rate of obesity-related cancers is increasing. These include malignancies of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and colon.
Thanks go out to all who have dedicated themselves to this noble cause – to beating cancer.