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UI Cancer Chief Involved in National Cancer Progress Report

Significant progress has been made against cancer due to the dedicated work of researchers throughout the biomedical research enterprise, according to the American Association for Cancer Research’s (AACR) Cancer Progress Report 2013, released today.

The AACR's third annual report details the many advances researchers across the country have made in understanding cancer. The report illustrates how basic and translational research, along with clinical insight, have resulted in new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer that are saving lives and improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

George Weiner, M.D., director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, was a part of the 16-member AACR committee that produced the report.

“We are making progress against cancer faster than ever before. This progress is based on research that has provided an improved understanding of the nature of cancer and is being used to improve cancer prevention, early detection, therapy, and enhancing the quality of life," says Weiner, UI professor of internal medicine who holds the C.E. Block Chair of Cancer Research.

According to the AACR report:

 Snapshot of a Year of Progress - Infographic

  • The number of cancer survivors continues to increase: the latest data show that 13.7 million U.S. survivors were alive on Jan. 1, 2012
  • In the past year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 11 new drugs to treat a variety of cancers, three new uses for previously approved cancer drugs, and three new imaging technologies
  • Cancer genomics research continues to advance precision medicine: nearly half of the new anticancer drugs approved by the FDA in 2013 target specific defects in cancers
  • More than 100 years of fundamental discoveries in immunology have now led to the development of anticancer immunotherapies that are yielding remarkable, long-lasting patient responses

While the report heralds the medical progress that has been made against cancer, it also notes that demographic factors, including an aging population and significant rates of obesity and smoking, will mean that cancer-related deaths will increase dramatically in the next several decades.

The report concludes that as cancer will continue to be a major health threat in the future, sustained and increased investment in cancer research will be vital for the development of more effective interventions that will be required to benefit patients.

“It is a time of great promise in cancer research. As outlined in the AACR report, we are poised to translate a large number of cancer research advances into improved care for patients. Iowa can be proud that researchers at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center are making major contributions to many of the advances outlined in the AACR report," says Weiner, who also is president-elect of the Association of American Cancer Institutes. "Unfortunately, at the same time, support for cancer research shrinking. We need the public to tell legislative leaders that support for biomedical research in general and cancer research in particular should be of top priority so our outstanding researchers have the resources to push advances forward. There is no doubt that doing so will reduce the burden of cancer that much more rapidly."

In his blog post, Weiner provides a more detailed discussion of the report's findings and the efforts of Iowa researchers in the exciting areas highlighted in the report.

For more information, visit this website to read the AACR news release and access the full report.