Today marks National Cancer Survivors Day®. It is my privilege to welcome you to this very special annual Celebration of Life, an occasion which is being commemorated around the world. NCI is committed – as always – to making progress in research to ensure that more people with cancer live longer, healthier lives, despite the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not that long ago, a cancer diagnosis typically meant an early death. Today, that has changed radically. People with cancer have a far better chance of living longer and enjoying an improved quality of life. As of January 2019, there were an estimated 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States, representing approximately 5% of the nation’s population. By 2029, the number is projected to grow to 21.7 million.
Thanks to advances in prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment, and with the benefit of new tools such as genomics and emerging technologies like immunotherapy, we have made – and continue to make – remarkable progress. Between 1991 and 2017, cancer death rates declined by 29%; this includes a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017 – the largest decrease in a single-year ever recorded.
This progress has catalyzed unprecedented enthusiasm and an abundance of ideas within the cancer research community, who see tremendous scientific opportunity to advance research that translates into meaningful outcomes for people with cancer.
We still have important work ahead of us and NCI wants to keep that fervent momentum going – with your help. Your active participation in clinical trials, research question prioritization, and advocacy is critical. Together, we are stronger in our capacity to move quickly from great ideas to new treatments
that make a difference in people’s lives.
Ned Sharpless, M.D.
Director, National Cancer Institute