A recent report from the American Cancer Society finds that death rates from cancer have dropped by the biggest-single year decline on record – encouraging news for us all. But one cancer death is one too many and we must keep pushing for breakthroughs.
According to the report, U.S. cancer deaths have dropped by 31 percent since 1991. This translates to 3.2 million fewer cancer deaths. The death rate from cancer in the U.S. dropped 2.4 % from 2017 to 2018, a record-setting decline. More effective cancer treatments have helped push this notable trend, particularly in lung cancer. Yet, while mortality from lung cancer —the most lethal form of cancer in the U.S. —is down, other forms have not declined as much. Prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers have not had the steady drops we hoped to see. In fact, breast cancer rates in Orange County are still on the rise. Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the country.
How to go from good news to great? I’m betting on City of Hope to lead the way. Here’s why I accepted the role of physician-in-chief for City of Hope Orange County and why I believe this century-old esteemed institution can change the cancer outlook.
- City of Hope is a nationally recognized cancer specialty hospital. It’s an institution powered by more than 1,000 highly specialized clinicians and scientists committed to providing safe and expert cancer care. This collective knowledge and dedication is the engine that pushes for improved treatment and cancer cures. It is estimated that 100 million people worldwide have already benefited from City of Hope discoveries.
- Pioneering work starts here. City of Hope’s relentless pursuit of medical breakthroughs puts us at the birth of the biotech revolution. Synthetic human insulin and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs were developed through technology pioneered by City of Hope. Today we are one of the few cancer centers globally with the ability to produce cellular, genetic and drug-based therapies to good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards for patients. In practical terms, that means we move discoveries from the lab to patients at breakthrough speed.
- We improve upon today’s treatments and push to break new ground. While many of our patients receive well-known treatments such as chemotherapy, we fine-tune and improve these practices. For example, our scientists developed a precision medicine tool that bases chemotherapy not on demographic data but on the patient’s genetics to determine their tolerance. Similarly, City of Hope is advancing precision medicine such as CAR-T therapy that uses the patient’s own genetics to fight cancer –that means fewer side effects because treatment is 100 percent specific to the individual.
- Although we focus on cancer, our influence is profound. Because our specialists have vast experience studying the human body, our work often branches into other endeavors, including current research on COHO451, a COVID-19 vaccine. City of Hope scientists focus on stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies that block the virus from entering cells and induce T-cell growth, which has the potential for long-term protection against future outbreaks. This promising work was conceived and developed in our labs and is being produced for clinical use at one of our clinical-grade manufacturing facilities.
- We redefine health care delivery. City of Hope’s expansion into Orange County will put these extraordinary capabilities squarely in the community it serves. This bold departure from the traditional academic setting means greater access to discoveries for those who need them today. Our first location in Newport Beach is the beginning of a county-wide network of cancer care and a cancer campus of the future in Irvine.
I describe these capabilities because I believe that they have the power to profoundly change the way we treat and eventually eradicate cancer – and that’s good news for all of us.