National Cancer Act Marks Milestone
Article date: December 22, 2011
December 23rd, 2011 marks 40 years since the passage of the National Cancer Act. President Richard Nixon signed the Act in 1971, declaring “war on cancer.” Last week, the Senate passed a resolution to officially commemorate the anniversary.
Passage of the Act increased federal efforts to fight cancer. It created the National Cancer Program, which is led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). As a result, there are currently 66 NCI-designated Cancer Centers in 33 states. The NCI and the National Institutes of Health fund the work of more than 325,000 researchers at more than 3,000 universities, hospitals, and other facilities in every state.
Federal investment in cancer research has led to the development of early detection and treatment tools that have led to a drop in death rates in both men and women since the early 1990s. However, 570,000 Americans are still dying from cancer each year.
“Cancer is no longer a virtual death sentence thanks to the significant progress we’ve made as a nation in the past 40 years,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society. “However, this is no time to rest on our past success. We need to celebrate this historic milestone by redoubling our efforts, so we can find answers for the deadliest cancers that still elude us.”
The Senate resolution commemorating the anniversary acknowledges that people with cancer have a far better chance of surviving today than they did 40 years ago. The 5-year survival rate for all cancers has increased by more than 33 % since the mid-1970s and as a result, there are close to 12 million cancer survivors in America today.
American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley, MD, said, “One of the most important things that came out of the National Cancer Act is that we started to do a lot of basic science to study the disease. We started understanding a great deal about the inter-workings of the cancer cell. We’ve even redefined cancer over the last 40 years. Today cancer is thought of as a molecular disease within a cell, whereas in the old days, cancer was thought of as a disease of tumors of tissues. So our approach to the disease, our approach to the treatment of the disease and our approach to prevention of the disease has become much more advanced as science has taught us a great deal.”
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
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