In 1971, President Nixon signed The National Cancer Act, setting into motion a national crusade to cure cancer. At that time, less than 50 percent of patients with a diagnosis of cancer could expect to live five years. Today, the probability of living five years following a cancer diagnosis has improved to 65 percent. And, for those with a diagnosis of prostate or breast cancer, the odds of surviving five years are even more impressive – 99 percent and 89 percent, respectively.
In contrast to those encouraging figures, the survival rate for lung cancer patients remains poor. Today, the likelihood of living five years after a diagnosis of lung cancer is less than 17 percent. Furthermore, deaths from lung cancer outnumber those from prostate, breast, colon and pancreas cancer combined. Fortunately, two groundbreaking developments in the control of lung cancer will be introduced next year – a screening tool for detecting lung cancer before it becomes incurable, and FDA approval of a medication that enables the body’s own immune system to attack lung cancer cells.