In the 11 months to July 31, 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 11 new anticancer drugs, three new uses for previously-approved anticancer drugs and three new cancer imaging technologies, according to a new report.
Moreover, two of these newly-available cancer drugs were approved together with companion diagnostics to ensure that only those patients who are likely to benefit from the drug would receive it, says the report, which is published by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
“This is an example of how large-scale genomic analysis of patients’ tumours is beginning to guide cancer diagnosis and treatment. Further innovation is needed, however, if genetic/genomic analysis is to become part of standard clinical practice, and if most cancer treatment and prevention strategies are to be based on both a person’s genetic makeup and the genetic makeup of their specific cancer,” it states.
Even with the advances in cancer research, it is projected that more than 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and more than 580,350 US citizens will die from one of the more than 200 types of cancer, says the report, which goes on to note that global cancer incidence is predicted to increase from 12.8 million new cases in 2008 to 22.2 million in 2030.
Compounding the cancer problem is the increasing prevalence of obesity and the continued use of tobacco products by nearly one in five Americans; these are linked to an elevated risk for eight and 18 different cancers, respectively, it adds.
The number of cancer-related deaths is also set to increase dramatically, as more than 75% of cancer diagnoses occur in people aged 55 and older, a segment of the population which is increasing substantially in size. As a result, cancer is predicted to become the number one disease-related killer in the US soon. This trend is also being mirrored globally, it is estimated that in 2020, more than 13 million people worldwide will lose their lives to cancer.
Therefore, the report warns that if the US does not increase its investments in the scientific research needed to develop more effective interventions, and make funding for cancer research and biomedical science a national priority, the increased economic burden to the country, from both direct medical costs and lost productivity, will cost lives and harm the economy.