World Cancer Research Day: Celebrating Progress in Treating and Caring for People With Cancer

September 13, 2022
Jyoti Patel, MD, FASCO

Cancer research has led us to better treatments and better ways to care for people with cancer. Through research, we aim to improve cancer survival as well as the quality of that survival. And hopefully, one day, cancer research will lead us to a cure for the disease.

Since 2016, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and other leading cancer organizations from around the world have teamed up in the fight against cancer by celebrating World Cancer Research Day. This day, which takes place every year on September 24, emphasizes how essential it is to support cancer research and the role that it plays in reducing the devastating effects of the disease.

Cancer care has changed dramatically in the past few years following the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, we’ve shed new light on the vast inequities in health care around the world. We have also learned that international collaborations and shared goals can lead to unprecedented scientific developments, which is why movements like World Cancer Research Day are so important to the progress of cancer care.

When the organizations that founded World Cancer Research Day first came together in 2016, they established The World Declaration for Research on Cancer, which has 5 specific objectives to achieve by 2025:

1: Increase awareness of the significance of cancer research.

2: Establish adequate and lasting financial funding.

3: Encourage collaboration on a global scale.

4: Teach effective research strategies.

5: Encourage the development of cancer research infrastructures in every country.

ASCO and researchers from around the world are working to build international collaborations that hasten cancer discoveries. We’re using new communication platforms to democratize research findings and teach clinical researchers. We need to make sure that advances against cancer are shared equally by people in all regions, all over the world.

The fruits of cancer research can reveal themselves in different ways around the world. For example, because of cancer research, we have vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer and is responsible for causing other cancers, too, including anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, penile cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. In total, HPV causes about 5% of all cancers globally, according to the National Cancer Institute. Universal access to vaccination is the key to avoiding most cases of HPV‐attributable cancer.

Cancer research has also led to remarkable breakthroughs in the treatment of advanced disease, with new treatments often working for years after chemotherapy stops being effective. Additionally, cancer research has led to treatment strategies that allow more patients to have less-invasive care options, thus improving quality of life for patients and decreasing the impact of treatment.

All of these breakthroughs have common threads. Innovation doesn’t come from a single person; it comes from collaboration and partnerships between researchers, patients, government agencies, and industries. It is fueled by a shared vision of reducing the burden of cancer. And an essential part of that shared vision comes from those generous patients who participate in clinical trials to help drive progress in cancer research for themselves and for future people with cancer.

Join me this month in marking World Cancer Research Day with a renewed urgency for cancer research that leads to improved outcomes for everyone, everywhere.

Follow the #WorldCancerResearchDay hashtag on Twitter to learn more about the World Cancer Research Day initiative.

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