​Cancer in 2014

Cancer Progress Report 2014: Contents

In this section you will learn:

  • There are nearly 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States.
  • In the United States, more than 1.6 million people are projected to receive a cancer diagnosis in 2014, and more than 585,000 are expected to die from the disease.
  • The number of new cancer cases per year is predicted to rise to almost 2.4 million in the United States, and more than 24 million globally in 2035.
  • Cancer is a costly disease, both in the United States and worldwide.

Rese​arch Fuels Progress Against Cancer

Research continues to be our best defense against cancer. It improves survival and quality of life for millions​​ of individuals by spurring the development of new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat, and, increasingly, cure some of the more than 200 diseases we call cancer.

This progress against cancer is the result of the dedicated efforts of many individuals working together as part of the broader biomedical research community (see sidebar on The Biomedical Research Community​). It takes many years of work by all s​takeholders within this community to bring a new medical product from initial research discovery to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This achievement was attained for six new anticancer therapeutics between Aug. 1, 2013, and July 31, 2014 (see Table 1). During this period, the FDA also approved new uses for five previously approved anticancer therapeutics, two imaging agents, and one screening test, thereby increasing the number of patients benefiting from them.

As a result of advances like these, the number of people in the United States who survive their can​​​cer continues to increase year after year (see Figure 1). In fact, since 1971, the year the U.S. Congress passed the National Cancer Act, the percentage of the U.S. population living with, through, or beyond a cancer diagnosis has more than tripled (1-4).​

The basic, translational, and clinical research that has fueled and continues to fuel extraordinary progress against cancer is made possible by investments from the federal gover​nment, philanthropic individuals and organizations, and the private sector. Of particular importance are the investments in biomedical research supported by the federal government and administered through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Without sustained support of biomedical research from all sectors, continued progress against cancer is in jeopardy.​

Cancer: An Ongoing Challe​​nge

Even though definitive, measurable progress has been and continues to be made against cancer, this devastating collection o​f diseases continues to pose an enormous challenge for researchers, clinicians, and patients. In fact, cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death among children in the United States (1).

Among the challenges we face is the fact that advances h​​​ave not been uniform for all types of adult and pediatric cancer (see Tables 2 and 3). Thus, whereas overall five-year survival rates for women with invasive breast cancer and men with prostate cancer are 89 percent and 99 percent, respectively, those for adult patients with pancreatic, liver, or lung cancer are very low, at 6 percent, 16 percent, and 17 percent, ​respectively (1). Similarly, whereas the overall five-year survival rate for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is 90 percent, it is only 64 percent for children diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (1).​

Moreover, advances hav​​e not been uniform for all patients diagnosed with a given cancer type. Five-year survival rates vary with stage at diagnosis and among different segments of the population (see sidebar on Cancer Health Disparities in the United States).​​

Although tremendous progress against cancer has been made (see Tables 2 and 3), the number of Americans receiving a cancer diagnosis each year has been increasing steadily for the past four decades, and this number is expected to rise significantly, reaching almost 2.4 million in 2035 (6). This projected increase is largely because cancer is, primarily, a disease of aging. Most cancer diagnoses occur in those age 65 and older (7), and this portion of the U.S. population is expected to double by 2060 (8). High rates of obesity and continued use of tobacco products by 18 percent of adults in the United States (9), both of which are linked to an elevated risk for numerous types of cancer (10, 11), are contributing to the problem.​

This rise in cancer cases is directly leading to an increase in the number of Americans dying of cancer. In fact, it is estimated that 585,720 people will die from some form of cancer in 2014 (1). Unless more effective strategies for cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment can be developed, it will not be long before cancer overtakes heart disease as the leading cause of death for all Americans, as it already is among the U.S. Hispanic population (12, 13) (see Figure 2).​

These challenges are not unique to the United States; they are also global problems. In 2012 alone, it is estimated that almost 14.1 million people worldwide received a diagnosis of cancer and 8.2 million died of the disease (6). Without significant new advances in cancer prevention, detection, and treatment, these numbers are projected to rise to 24 million new cancer cases and 14.6 million cancer deaths in 2035.​

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Cancer: A Co​​stly Disease. Research: A Vital Investment

The immense burden of cancer is clear not just from the large number of lives it touches but also fr​om its significant economic impact. Cancer is among the costliest of diseases to the United States. The most recent NIH estimates indicate that the overall economic costs of cancer in 2009 were $216.6 billion: $86.6 billion in direct medical costs (i.e., the costs for all health expenditures) and $130.0 billion for indirect costs (i.e., costs for lost productivity due to premature death) (1). These costs stand in stark contrast to the NIH and NCI budgets for fiscal year 2014, which are just $30 billion and $4.9 billion, respectively.​

The glo​​bal economic toll of cancer is also enormous. It has been estimated that the 12.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2009 cost the world $286 billion that year alone (14). As the number of cancer cases rises, so, too, does cost. The 13.3 million new cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide in 2010 are estimated to have cost $290 billion, and the 21.5 million new cancer cases anticipated to occur in 2030 are projected to cost $458 billion (15).​

The rising economic and personal burden of cancer underscores the urgent need for more research to develop new prevention and treatment approaches. Recent advances, som​e of which are highlighted in this report, were made as a direct result of the cumulative efforts of researchers across the spectrum of research disciplines. Much of their work, and the advances that followed, was a direct result of research funding from the federal government. Thus, it is imperative that Congress and the administration increase investments in the primary federal agencies that support this vital research, the NIH and NCI.

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Cancer Progress Report 2014 Contents

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