Currently, 41% of American will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime; and that number is expect to increase 20% by 2030 to 50% or 1/2 the population. 635,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer each year and 21% of Americans will die from cancer. Those numbers are scary but we can change them. Cancer rates in children are rising and if you take lung cancer out of the equation, adult cancers are rising as well. So all of us will be touched by this dreaded disease in one form or another. Those who fight these dreadful diseases are Brave Strong Lions; ever last one of them and to face them as children’s is incredibly scary and often lonely for many of them. But we can all bring about the day when children, and adults for that matter, don’t have to face toxic chemotherapy. For some pediatric cancers, they must get chemotherapy for 3.5 years or more. Often that which saves lives causes other side-effects. We are close to better methods but we must all join in to insure it is realized.
The good news is that researchers both at incredible academic institutions like Children's National Hospital, other great cancer centers, and private companies are developing amazing breakthrough treatments that can in some cases cure specific types of cancer or extend life in a quality manner for other types. Most of the oncology staff at Children’s are affiliated with NIH which has 69 of the top cancer centers in the country performing advanced, break through research. So the work done at Children’s National often is in conjunction with many of these other top institutions and the data and results are shared.
We are so close on many cancers to developing less toxic, life-saving treatments other than chemotherapy but there is so much work to be done. We cannot allow the progress to slow. We are all depending on it.
Unfortunately, once a Research & Development team develops a breakthrough treatment, It costs a company $2.6b to bring one treatment to market. To put it into perspective, the entire 2016 National Institute of Health (NIH) budget to fight and study cancer was $5.2b. The announcement of the national "Moonshot" against cancer is commendable but it’s just not enough. We cannot rely on the government to cure various types of cancers. $5.2b isn't anywhere near enough money when the cost to study one drug and follow the patients in order to commercialize the drug is $2.6b.
The other good news is the FDA seems to be trying to help lower that cost of entry and to expedite breakthrough therapies but depending on Congress, which administration is in power, and many, many other variables, the progress could be slowed when we are at such a critical juncture. Let's win this war, the biggest war we as Americans face, which is taking the biggest toll on not only Americans, but people throughout the world. Its cancer toll on lives is bigger than any other wars we are fighting combined.
We all need to be in the fight and on the team to cure cancers by raising money to help supplement the academic institutions in their research.
The amazing progress in cancer treatment began with pediatric cancers when Dr. Farber in Boston began using life-extending, but toxic chemotherapy. Then NIH took his work to the next level with multiple chemotherapy drugs used at the same time which extended life even more. The Children's Oncology Group, a world-wide organization, one in which Children's National has played an important role, has taken the NIH work to the point in which the most common childhood cancer, ALL is cured in 85% of the cases. But 15% relapse so there is still much work to be done as well as in other types of cancer which don't have as good a prognosis. In addition, the goal is that no child have to undergo chemotherapy, losing their hair, feeling so different, and often feeling bad. Thank goodness for chemotherapy but we know there are better ways waiting.
As I said, many of the researchers and staff at America's children's hospital, called Children's National Hospital, are affiliated with the very institution, NIH, which is developing these treatments and cures. Today, the silos between pediatric and adult cancer research are coming down. The adult oncology community is learning so much from the incredible history of pediatric cancer care and treatments and now, many drugs that are developed for the adult populations are finding their way into clinical trials for the pediatric world faster as well. But we cannot become complacent. We must forge forward until we make it to a better place where children and adults can have their cancers cured in weeks versus years; with focused, localized, less toxic treatments. Chemotherapy saves lives but it is a shot gun approach that creates a lot of collateral damage.
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The MedConnect180 Team