40th Anniversary of the National Cancer Act


Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the National Cancer Act. President Richard Nixon signed this historic bill into law at the White House on December 23, 1971.

It was President Nixon who called for a national initiative to fight cancer during his State of the Union Address earlier that year. The law not only increased investments in cancer research, but it also established the National Cancer Advisory Board and the President’s Cancer Panel as well as special budget authorities for the National Cancer Institute.

We’ve made significant progress against cancer during the past 40 years, but we still have a long way to go:

People are living longer with the disease – the number of cancer survivors living in the U.S. has increased from 3 million in 1971 (1.5% of U.S. population) to approximately 12 million (4% of U.S. population) today.

More than 1.5 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year and the NIH estimates the overall cost of cancer is $260 billion annually.

Today, two-thirds of patients survive five years or longer after their cancer diagnosis, compared to only half of patients forty years ago.

Every one percent decline in cancer mortality saves the U.S. economy $500 billion annually.

As we stop to remember this historic day, we must encourage Congress and the Administration to protect funding for federal cancer research and programs so that we can build on the progress we have made in the past 40 years.

LIVESTRONG advocates for this funding for all those affected by cancer. Please help us continue our work in the upcoming year. Visit www.livestrong.org/TougherTogether and make an end of year donation today.


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