Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cancer Research

As one of the many ways the American Cancer Society helps save lives, they dedicate millions of dollars each year to research and professional training and are the largest source of private, nonprofit cancer research funds in the United States.

Since 1946, the Society has invested more than $3.4 billion in research to help understand cancer’s causes, determine how best to prevent it, and discover new ways to cure it. A nationwide competition and rigorous external peer review ensures that only the most promising research is funded.

The Society's research program is unique in that it most often funds investigators at the beginning of their research careers, at a time when they are less likely to receive funding from the federal government. In this way, the Society's research program plays a crucial role in cultivating the next generation of cancer researches. The Society's priorities also focus on needs that are unmet by other funding organizations, such as funding for the current targeted research area of cancer in the poor and under served.

Since 1971, the number of cancer survivors alive today, now 10.8 million, has more than tripled and the 5-year survivorship rate is now 66%. Much of this success can be attributed to research. Each year since 1990, new cancer case rates and death rates from cancer have declined.

Here are some of the major accomplishments of ACS funded research

1946 to present -- Funded 42 Nobel Prize winners early in their careers.

1946 -- Research program begins with $1 million raised by Mary Lasker-- $2.5 billion has been raised since the inception of the research program.

1946 -- Wendell Stanley, PhD, becomes the first Society-funded researcher to win the Nobel Prize (for crystallizing a virus).

1954 -- The American Cancer Society’s Hammond-Horn study shows the first link between smoking and lung cancer.

1959 -- First cancer prevention study (CPS I) is launched. Data from this study and the subsequent 1982 study involves two million people and has been used in more than 100 other research studies. CPS-3 will follow half a million participants to identify factors that may cause cancer and will be the largest analysis of its kind in the United States.

1970 -- The first cancer-causing gene, or oncogene, is identified by American Cancer Society grantee Peter Vogt, MD, in a chicken tumor virus.

1973 -- Society-funded Paul Berg, PhD, clones the first gene (Nobel Prize in 1980).

1974 -- Society-funded V. Craig Jordan, PhD, shows that tamoxifen can prevent breast cancer in rats by binding to the estrogen receptor.

1990s -- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for screening and early detection of prostate cancer is developed by Society-funded T. Ming Chu, PhD.

1991 -- Society-funded research shows that young children recognize Joe Camel as easily as Mickey Mouse, demonstrating that the cartoon character reaches an audience well under the legal smoking age.

2000 -- Former Society grantee Brian Druker, MD, reports stunning success in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia with a molecularly targeted pill called Gleevec (manufactured by Novartis).

2003 -- American Cancer Society researchers, led by Eugenia Calle, PhD, conclude that overweight and obesity contribute to most types of cancer and could account for 14% of cancers in men and 20% of cancers in women.

2006 -- For the first time in history, the actual number of cancer deaths in the United States declined, thanks in large part to the American Cancer Society's groundbreaking work in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.