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Progress In Treating Cancer In The U.S. Continues To Surge, Surpassing 50 Million Life-years Saved

NEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. life expectancy for people with cancer hit another all-time high, rising over 50 million life-years after diagnosis. The estimate of approximately 50 million life-years saved is based on the number of additional years of life that each person diagnosed with cancer since 1990 has experienced as a result of advances in science and broader access to novel cancer therapies. This is based on statistics collected through the Value of Medical Innovation initiative, led by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), promoting a world free from cancer by 2050. CMPI cautions, however, that those gains could be at risk if the policy environment and healthcare system at large do not accelerate access to the innovations responsible for longer lives and declines in cancer-related death rates.

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According to CMPI co-founder Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., "The benefits of medical innovation to patients and their families can be counted in birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other life events that would have been missed if it weren't for medical innovation."

In 1990, there were about six million cancer survivors in the United States. Today, there are about 14 million. Back then, about 57 percent of cancer patients could expect to live five years or more. Today, that number is nearly 70 percent. And the value that innovative therapies bring by way of longer life, productivity, consumer consumption of goods, increasing healthcare system efficiencies and societal prosperity is more than $4.8 trillion.

"We're at a turning point in battling cancer," said Scott Gottlieb, M.D., resident fellow for the American Enterprise Institute. "Doctors are finally able to reliably tailor treatments to the unique genetic composition of each patient's tumor rather than by its location in the body alone. Other new drugs are able to prime our own immune cells to attack cancers."

Research suggests that even greater gains in life-years—along with a decline in the cost of treating cancer—are possible through personalized medicine, which reduces the cost and time of treatment compared with the old one-size-fits-all model. "We shouldn't endanger the gains we've made and risk future advances by limiting or delaying access to the next generation of medicines," states Goldberg. "We can achieve a world free from cancer, but only if we continue to speed the development and use of innovations that have allowed us to reach 50 million life-years saved over the past two decades."

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