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Cancer Death Rates in United States Decline by 33% in the Past 30 Years
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Cancer Death Rates in United States Decline by 33% in the Past 30 Years, Fueled by Rapid Advancements in CAR-T Therapy and KRAS Inhibitors.
As the world grapples with an aging population, the number of cancer patients continues to rise. Even in the technologically advanced United States, the battle against cancer remains an uphill struggle, with cancer being the second leading cause of death.
However, thanks to improved awareness of early detection, early diagnosis, and early treatment, coupled with remarkable advancements in medical technology, an increasing number of cancer patients are either being clinically cured or maintaining cancer-free status for years, becoming cancer survivors!
The 2023 Cancer Progress Report, released by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), provides a comprehensive overview of research developments as of the end of July 2023.
In addition to significant medical breakthroughs, progress in cancer prevention and early detection has contributed to a 33% reduction in cancer death rates in the United States over the past 30 years, estimated to have prevented 3.8 million cancer deaths.
Clinical trial results funded by the National Cancer Institute show that since 1980, the overall life expectancy of cancer patients in the United States has increased by nearly 14 million years.
Most notably, breast cancer death rates have decreased by 43% over the past 30 years, estimated to have reduced the number of deaths by 460,000.
Furthermore, in recent years, the rate of decline in lung cancer death rates has accelerated, dropping by 0.9% annually from 1995 to 2005 and by nearly 5% annually from 2014 to 2020. This can be attributed to reduced smoking rates and the rapid development of molecular targeted therapies and cancer immunotherapies.
The report also reveals that between 1970 and 2020, the overall cancer death rate for patients aged 14 and under decreased by 70%. During the same period, the overall cancer death rate for adolescents aged 15 to 19 decreased by 64%. As a result, the number of cancer survivors has increased from 3 million in 1971 to over 18 million today.
Here are some key highlights from the AACR 2023 Cancer Progress Report:
- Between August 1, 2022, and July 31, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 14 new cancer therapies, including gene-based immunotherapies for certain bladder cancer patients, first-line antibody-drug conjugates for ovarian cancer patients, and four new dual-specificity T-cell-engaging antibodies for various hematologic malignancies.
- During this period, the FDA also approved two new imaging agents and expanded the use of 12 previously approved cancer therapies to treat other cancer types, including immun checkpoint inhibitors for pediatric and adult patients with rare sarcomas.
FDA-approved anti-cancer therapies between August 2022 and July 2023 (AACR official website)
- Since 2011, the FDA has approved 11 immune checkpoint inhibitors for various cancer types, making this therapy available for 20 cancer types and tumors with specific molecular features.
- Since 2017, the FDA has approved six chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies to treat various hematologic malignancies.
- Immunotherapy research continues to expand, with researchers combining the power of other immune cells with the latest advances in gene editing to develop more personalized and effective adoptive cell therapies for solid tumors. There is also ongoing research into mRNA-based vaccines and therapies for cancer treatment, as well as efforts to enhance the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy through targeting the gut microbiome.
This year’s report places a particular emphasis on the fourth pillar of cancer treatment: cancer immunotherapy.
Among these, developments in the field of cancer treatment, including KRAS inhibitors, CAR-T therapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and bispecific T-cell-engaging proteins, have been particularly rapid.
The following sections highlight some of the rapidly advancing technologies and drugs in the field of cancer treatment.
CAR-T cell therapy, which achieved fame in 2012 for successfully “curing” leukemia in a girl named Emily, has become a hot topic in the medical field, following the success of PD-1 therapy.
This innovative precision-targeted therapy is distinct from traditional drugs. It represents a novel, precise, and targeted approach to treating cancer.
Through gene engineering techniques, T-cells are activated and equipped with a CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) navigation system, turning ordinary T-cells into “super warriors” called CAR-T cells.
These CAR-T cells are designed to specifically recognize and efficiently eliminate cancer cells within the body, ultimately aiming to treat malignant tumors.
Compared to traditional chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, CAR-T therapy delivers more precise cancer cell destruction while significantly reducing side effects.
The first CAR-T cell therapy was approved in 2017 for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and young adults
. As of July 31, 2023, the FDA in the United States has approved six different CAR-T cell therapies for the treatment of various hematologic system cancers (eight CAR-T therapies globally approved).
Recent Developments in CAR-T Therapy for Different Cancers
Since the approval of Axicabtagene Ciloleucel (Yescarta) and Tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) in China in 2021, followed by the approval of Bellicum’s BPX-603 in 2022, and the introduction of BCMA-targeted CAR-T therapy, Idecabtagene Vicleucel (Abecma), for the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma patients in 2023, CAR-T therapy has entered a period of rapid growth.
Pharmaceutical companies worldwide, including domestic firms, are joining the effort, and domestic CAR-T therapies are also entering the “harvest period.”
CAR-T Therapy for Different Cancers
One critical aspect of CAR-T therapy for solid tumors is the selection of target antigens. Clinical CAR-T projects in development are targeting various antigens based on specific tumor microenvironments to enable more precise targeting of cancer cells.
CAR-T Therapy Success Stories in Various Cancers
– B-Cell Lymphoma: In a phase 1 clinical trial of CRG-022, a CAR-T therapy targeting CD22, more than 50% of relapsed/refractory large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL) patients who had become resistant to CD19-targeted CAR-T therapy achieved complete remission. These results are highly promising, and CRG-022 has received FDA breakthrough therapy designation based on these data.
– Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: In a study involving eight patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who had not previously undergone CAR-T therapy, seven patients (87.5%) achieved complete remission within a median observation period of 12 months. Five patients still had a sustained response at the last follow-up, with one patient surviving cancer-free for over two years.
– Acute T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A 13-year-old girl from Leicester, UK, became the world’s first patient to receive a CAR-T cell therapy based on base editing. After 28 days of treatment, her condition improved, and she continued to receive a bone marrow transplant to restore her immune system. Fortunately, six months later, she was in good health, with no detectable cancer cells.
This represents the world’s first clinical study of a universal cell therapy based on base editing entering
In the realm of CAR-T therapy for solid tumors, the key lies in selecting the right target antigens. Researchers are choosing appropriate antigens based on specific tumor microenvironments, allowing CAR-T therapy to precisely target cancer cells.
The rapid progress in CAR-T therapy and the promising results across different cancer types offer hope for more cancer patients to benefit from cellular therapies. These developments underscore the transformative potential of CAR-T cell therapy in the fight against cancer.
Approved CAR-T Therapies Worldwide
The AACR 2023 Cancer Progress Report highlights the remarkable progress in the field of cancer research and treatment, particularly in the areas of CAR-T therapy and KRAS inhibitors.
With the continued dedication of researchers and the collaboration of the global medical community, the fight against cancer is advancing at an unprecedented pace.
These innovative therapies offer new hope to cancer patients and contribute to the ongoing effort to reduce cancer mortality rates worldwide.
As we move forward, the future of cancer treatment looks brighter than ever, with the potential to turn more cancer patients into survivors.
Cancer Death Rates in U.S. Decline by 33% in the Past 30 Years
(source:internet, reference only)