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Cancer and Cancer Pathways Print

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States,surpassed only by heart disease. In the United States, nearly one in two men and more than one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetime.The American Cancer Society predicts more than 1.4 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2007, and nearly 560,000 Americans will die of cancer this year. Beyond the immeasurable loss of life, the National Institutes of Health estimate annual overall costs for cancer at nearly $200 billion.


Despite these sobering statistics, the battle against cancer has seen marked improvement in recent years, as evidenced by a drop in cancer-related deaths for the second straight year. In addition, the five-year survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 1996 and 2002 has increased from 51 to 66 percent, and the death rates for breast and colon cancers have decreased steadily or stabilized since the 1990s.


Several factors have likely contributed to these declines, including better and more aggressive screening programs and earlier diagnosis and treatment. In addition, advances in our understanding of the biology of cancer have led to innovative therapies for some of the most common and deadliest types of cancer.


The most notable of these advances is the discovery of various cancer pathways that comprise a wide range of processes that allow cancer cells to escape the normal restraints on growth. Deeper understanding of these cancer pathways has led to the development of treatments designed to target the underlying biology of cancer much more specifically than conventional approaches like chemotherapy. In certain types of cancer, some targeted biologic therapies have produced the first substantial improvements in survival in many years.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010 08:38