As the doors open for the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, a report reveals that drugmakers in the USA are testing 981 medicines and vaccines to fight the disease.

An analysis published by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America notes that these therapies, which are either in clinical trials or under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, include 121 for lung cancer, 117 for lymphoma and 111 for breast cancer. The report notes the "steady improvements in cancer survivorship rates in the USA and quotes figures from the American Cancer Society which show that the death rate fell 22% for men and 14% for women between 1990 and 2007; this translates to 898,000 fewer deaths.

The PhRMA analysis also looks at the economic impact, citing the National Institutes of Health estimates for overall costs for cancer in 2007 of $226.8 billion. Also, according to recent research from the University of Chicago, reducing cancer death rates by 10% would be worth roughly $4.4 trillion "in economic value to current and future generations".

PhRMA chief executive John Castellani noted that "despite amazing strides in the ongoing battle against cancer, the many forms of this disease remain a major public health challenge". He added that "future medical advancements are our best hope for lessening the burden".