There are many different types of cancer, and sub-types and individual tumour phenotypes. This makes the modern aim of ‘curing cancer’ somewhat challenging. The statistic that there are 981 medicines and vaccines in the pipeline supports that. It also illustrates how complex a disease cancer can be. That figure came from a recent report on Cancer published by PhRMA. The President John Castellani summed up the challenges and achievements in the field of cancer saying that “it is a story of amazing science, individual perseverance and a sector-wide commitment.” The sector-wide commitment is a very important point to have made – cancer crosses every boarder within the industry and the progress that has been made so far is a tribute to the collaboration between academics, clinicians, technicians, regulators and scientists.
Although many people do still die from cancer, there has been improvement. As the PhRMA report states, the number of survivors has been steadily increasing from 3 million in 1971 to 11.7 million in 2007. Those statistics could be argued against since more people are now diagnosed with cancer thanks to improved diagnostics, and the number of cancers in total are on the rise due to age and lifestyle factors. The rest of the report contains some interesting figures on cancer rates across the USA and more detail on specific medicines.
The real message to take from the report is that there is a good foundation of knowledge and collaboration to build on moving forwards