September 16, 2014 | by Nicole White
Cancer research has yielded scientific breakthroughs that offer patients more options, more hope for survival and a higher quality of life than ever before.
The 14.5 million cancer patients living in the United States are living proof that cancer research saves lives. Now, in addition to the clinic, hospital and laboratory, there is another front for the fight against cancer: The battle for funding to keep this research ongoing.
City of Hope joins the American Association for Cancer Research in support of the Rally for Medical Research on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 18. Hundreds of organizations and individuals – comprehensive cancer centers, research advocacy groups, clinicians, business leaders, survivors and others – are joining the call to members of Congress to make funding for the National Institutes of Health a priority and stop the chronic decline of public funding for science. “New scientific discoveries have completely changed our understanding of cancer,” said Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of Medical Quality at City of Hope. “In the past, cancer was an unknowable enemy for whom the only choice was more and more toxic treatments. We now understand that cancer is a biologically complex disease whose underlying causes are knowable and, by extension, treatable with innovative, targeted therapies that strive for greater effectiveness delivered with far less toxicity.”
A lack of funding threatens to slow this progress. Funding to the NIH, which includes the National Cancer Institute, has been stagnant since 2003. In fact, once adjusted for inflation, funding has dropped by 22 percent. Meanwhile, most cancer diagnoses occur in people age 65 or older – a segment of the population projected to double by 2060, and with it the number of cancer diagnoses will increase dramatically.
“Any reductions in funding for basic cancer research would threaten to undermine the great leaps forward that we have seen in the past decade,” Alvarnas said.
The effort is led by the AACR, which earlier this week released its annual Cancer Progress Report. While new drugs have been approved, immunotherapies are becoming a reality in more labs and clinical trials, and other breakthroughs have marked the last year – it’s never been more important to invest in cancer research.
“Incredible strides have been made in advancing our understanding, enhancing prevention and improving therapy of cancer,” said Steven Rosen, M.D., City of Hope’s provost, chief scientific officer, and director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at City of Hope. “To maintain momentum with the ultimate goal of maximizing cure of these devastating diseases the necessary funds must be available.”
Follow the rally on Twitter using #RallyMedRes. The AACR has provided an easy way to send a customizable letter to your senator or congressional representative.
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.