This year alone, approximately 1.7 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed and 585,000 people will die from the disease. One in two men and one in three women will get cancer in their lifetime. Currently the second leading cause of death in this country, by 2030 cancer will surpass heart disease as the number one killer. These statistics are well known, but nonetheless troubling. They are more than numbers–they represent real people whose lives are disrupted, transformed and unfortunately, even ended early, because of this complex web of over 100 diseases known as cancer.
Among the most important tools we have in the fight against cancer are clinical trials which are research studies that involve people and are designed to test new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. Potential treatments and therapies are designed in a lab and those that are most promising are then moved into a clinical trial. Most treatments in use today are the results of past clinical trials.
Most important, clinical trials provide hope to people dealing with cancer. Although there are best practices in care treatment plans, clinical trials still provide vital opportunities for many patients who are facing life-threatening illnesses which have not responded well to their initial treatments. Clinical trials improve people’s lives today and hold promise for even greater discoveries in the future.
Yet, government funding for clinical trials is in jeopardy. Breakthrough therapies and innovative treatments require commitment to our nation’s research infrastructure. If progress is to continue to be made in understanding and responding to cancer, clinical trials must be at the forefront of our efforts. Without substantial, predictable and continuing investments in this system, a sub-optimal number of patients will be enrolled in clinical trials. As a result, the consequences of these federal funding decisions could be grave. Clinical trials provide hope to people when they need it most, and we must be advocates to maintain and improve this system which has been responsible for saving many lives.
Cancer survivors interested in clinical trials should visit NCI and AccrualNet. You can also learn more from NIH. We hope you will learn more about the Prevent Cancer Foundation and become an advocate today.