Background Amazing progress has been made against cancer because of the dedicated work of researchers throughout the biomedical research enterprise. Their efforts have spurred, and continue to spur, the translation of scientific discoveries into new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer. These remarkable advances are contributing to the rise in the number of people who are surviving longer and living life to the fullest after their cancer diagnosis. In fact, the number of cancer survivors living today in the United States is estimated to be more than 13.7 million. The improvements in health care that have significantly reduced the burden of cancer were made possible by the scientific foundation provided through the many decades of investments in basic, translational, and clinical research. These investments come from the federal government, philanthropic individuals and organizations, and the private sector. The federal investments in biomedical research, made primarily through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), have been particularly instrumental in building our current scientific foundation. Although extraordinary advances in cancer research have deepened our understanding of how cancer develops, grows, and threatens the lives of millions, it is projected that 580,350 Americans will die from one of the more than 200 types of cancer in 2013. Moreover, because more than 75 percent of cancer diagnoses occur in those aged 55 and older and this segment of the population is increasing in size, we face a future where the number of cancer-related deaths will increase dramatically. As a result, cancer is predicted to soon become the number one disease-related killer of Americans. This trend is being mirrored globally, and it is estimated that in 2030, more than 13 million people worldwide will lose their lives to cancer. As the number of cancer deaths increases, the economic burden of cancer will mushroom. Given that the global economic toll of cancer already is 20 percent higher than that from any other major disease, it is imperative that all sectors of the biomedical research enterprise work together to deliver future breakthroughs to help reduce the incidence of cancer. Fortunately, we have never been better positioned to capitalize on our hard-won understanding of cancer - what causes it, what drives it. We now know that changes in an individual's genes alter certain protein components of the cell, driving cancer initiation, development, and spread (metastasis). We also know that therapies that specifically target these defects are often beneficial to patients while being less toxic than older therapies. However, continued progress is in jeopardy. This is because investments in the NIH by the federal government have been steadily declining for the past decade. On top of this, on March 1, 2013, sequestration slashed the NIH budget by $1.6 billion, or 5.1 percent. This third AACR Cancer Progress Report to Congress and the American public seeks again to serve as a comprehensive educational tool that illustrates the astounding return on investment in cancer research and biomedical science, while also celebrating the many ways that we have continued to make research count for patients in the past year. Scientific momentum has brought the arrival of a new era in which we will be able to develop even more effective interventions and save more lives from cancer, but to do so will require an unwavering, bipartisan commitment from Congress and the administration to invest in our country's remarkably productive biomedical research enterprise.
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