Advances accrued over the past decade of cancer research have fundamentally changed the conversations that Americans can have about cancer. Although many still think of a single disease affecting different parts of the body, research tells us—through new tools and technologies, massive computing power, and new insights from other fields—that cancer is, in fact, a collection of many diseases whose ultimate number, causes, and treatment represent a challenging biomedical puzzle. Yet cancer’s complexity also provides a range of opportunities to confront its many incarnations.
This knowledge brings us—and our national conversation—to a crucial opportunity for acceleration in the study of cancer and its treatment. The emerging scientific landscape offers the promise of significant advances for current and future cancer patients, just as it offers scientists at the National Cancer Institute—and in the thousands of laboratories across the United States that receive NCI support—the opportunity to dramatically increase the pace of lifesaving discoveries where progress has long been steady but mostly incremental. Some of the important scientific discoveries and their potential implications are re-counted in the pages that follow.
We reap the rewards of investments in cancer made over the past 40 years or more, even as we stake out a bold investment strategy to realize the potential we see so clearly. No matter what the fiscal climate, NCI will strive to commit the resources necessary to bring about a new era of cancer research, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.