"Will there ever be a cure for cancer?"
Many people have asked this question – those who are living with cancer, those whose families have been touched by the disease, those who fear that cancer might be in their future.
The good news is that we’re closer than ever to fully understanding, treating, controlling and preventing the many diseases called “cancer.” Today, over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive at least 5 years after their diagnosis. In the 1940s, survival was about 25%.
Incidence rates for most cancer sites are stabilizing or declining. Other recent statistics show the progress we have made against specific cancers, and also the work we still have to do.
In addition to breakthroughs in new treatment approaches, research has also helped to tremendously refine the three “traditional” approaches to cancer treatment — chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. While these approaches have been used for decades to treat cancer, there is a level of personalization and sophistication available today that can only be credited to research.
For example, surgery is now more accurate and often less invasive. Chemotherapy drugs are constantly being fine-tuned. We are also improving ways to deliver radiation therapy so that the treatment is more effective and healthy cells are not affected.
At the same time, there has been a veritable explosion of knowledge about the proteins, genes and cells involved in cancer over the past two decades. This exploding knowledge base is giving us the ability to pose and answer questions we could not even have conceived of 10 to 20 years ago, and is propelling us towards our ultimate goal of creating a world where no one needs to fear cancer.
Some experts doubt that we’ll ever find a single, universal cure for cancer, which isn’t really a single disease but actually is 200 or more different diseases. Yet researchers have uncovered a staggering amount of information about cancer over the past two decades.
This revolution in our understanding of cancer has set the stage for a new era in cancer therapy and prevention, due in part to the many studies and clinical trials funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.
Thanks to research, we are closer than ever before to fully understanding cancer. A broad range of research funded by the Canadian Cancer Society has contributed to our current knowledge of the disease. And as our knowledge increases, we will see even greater progress.
For more information on cancer and information on the Canadian Cancer Society please visit our website at www.cancer.ca.