The DNA of the National Cancer Act
Just as every cancer is unique, so too are the stories of the people and events that have transformed cancer research and care. They are the pioneers of advocacy, the researchers and scientists discovering new treatments and prevention approaches, and the doctors who deeply care about improving the lives of their patients. They are the social workers, patient educators, administrators, and technicians. Most importantly, they are the patients, who are also our friends, family, and sometimes even ourselves.
There are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the United States, and each will contend with the effects of their diagnosis and treatment in different ways. Personalized treatment options continue to be studied, but as the number of survivors keeps growing, research is also being devoted to finding ways to improve overall care and well-being so that survivors can go on to live longer, healthier lives.
Cervical cancer kills 300,000 people globally each year, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and the advent of more convenient and accessible screening methods like self-sampling, it is now possible to prevent cervical cancer entirely or catch it early enough to cure it. And through partnerships with other countries, more clinical trial data are emerging that could further improve global prevention efforts so that we can get rid of cervical cancer for good.
Cancer advocates have a long history of making sure patients' voices get heard. In fact, one notable advocate had a major role in making the National Cancer Act a reality. Meet these not-so-silent allies of yesterday and today who challenge the status quo, push for progress, and accelerate change in the world of cancer.
NCI-Designated Cancer Centers provide breakthrough approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating all types of cancers. Today, there are 71 centers in 36 states that are composed of multidisciplinary teams that deliver cutting-edge research, clinical trials, and state-of-the-art treatment facilities to all Americans, including many underserved communities. Earning an NCI designation is an honor reserved for only the top cancer centers in the nation.
The National Cancer Act of 1971 was the spark that fueled the next 50 years of cancer progress. Created from the efforts of advocates, this investment in basic science and data compilation and sharing has contributed to an increased understanding of cancer biology—leading to new and improved therapies, and ultimately, more survivors. Cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care delivery are also reaching more people than ever through cancer centers, clinical trial networks, and community-based programs. The National Cancer Act signaled a nationwide commitment to cancer control and this landmark legislation has provided a foundation to help all of us as we continue in the fight against cancer.