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Fighting Cancer

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing more than 800 medicines for cancer

In recent decades, tremendous – almost previously unthinkable – progress has been made in the fight against cancer. Advances in molecular and genomic research have revealed underlying complexities and provided insights into cancer, which we now know is actually more than 200 unique diseases.

Continued research has expanded our knowledge of how the disease develops and how to target medicines for specific cancer types – resulting in more effective therapies for patients. America’s biopharmaceutical companies are responding to the needs of cancer patients, working to develop innovative approaches for more targeted treatments. Researchers are exploring new hightech methods to fight the disease as well as new ways to maximize the use of existing medicines, either alone or in combination with other therapies, to treat various forms of the disease. 

In fact, biopharmaceutical companies are developing 836 medicines and vaccines for cancer, all of which are in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

With more than 800 medicines in development for cancer by America’s biopharmaceutical research companies, patients like Matt and his family have the courage to keep fighting. Watch Matt's story here.

Nearly 14.5 Million Survivors

Evidence of progress can be found in the number of cancer survivors living in the United States – a number that has increased from 3 million in 1971 to 14.5 million in 2014. Currently, about 4 percent of Americans are cancer survivors. The cancer death rate has declined 23% since its peak in 1991, and 83% of survival gains in cancer are attributable to new treatments, including medicines.

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Facts About Cancer in the United States

  • The cancer death rate has fallen 23% from its peak in 1991, in large part due to medicines.

  • Survival rates for childhood cancers have increased 43% over the last several decades.

  • 73% of cancer medicines in the pipeline have the potential to be personalized medicines.

  • More than 23 million years of collective life have been saved through cancer treatment advances between 1988 and 2000.

  • The value of cancer treatment between 1988 and 2000 amounted to $1.9 trillion - learn more about its impact

Liz and Jay Scott, Co-Executive directors of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, are recipients of the 2015 Research & Hope Award for Excellence in Visibility and Progress.

Watch their inspirational story of hope for the future of childhood cancer.


Increase in 5 Year Survival Rates Since 1975

As we continue to advance cancer treatment, progress can be seen in declining death rates from cancer and increases in cancer survivors. According to the American Cancer Society, the death rate from cancer has been steadily declining since the 1970s—declining more than 15 percent in the period from 2000-2011 alone.

Five-year survival rates have increased 41 percent across all cancer types since 1975, with 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer surviving at least five years.

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Research Breakthroughs for Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, 83 percent of survival gains are attributable to new treatments, including the following medicines:

  • Targeted Therapies: Targeted therapies are designed to interfere with specific molecular targets involved in cancer cell growth or progression, whereas traditional chemotherapy acts against all rapidly dividing cells, including healthy ones. 

  • Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines: In the late 1990s, scientists began experimenting with new vaccines that could harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer rather than to prevent it. 

  • Preventive Vaccines: Preventive vaccines target viruses or other infectious agents that can cause or contribute to the development of cancer.