Americans speak out on cancer

December 17, 2003

Most Americans are far more afraid of cancer than getting into a serious car accident, or being victim of a violent crime or a terrorist attack. A large majority - more than 75 percent - also favors increasing government funding for cancer research, with 63 percent saying they would be willing to double the current federal cancer budget.

These are among the striking results of a nationwide survey that measured public attitudes and opinions about the country's efforts to eliminate cancer. The survey was commissioned by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, quintuple winner of the Tour de France, and Hamilton Jordan, a three-time cancer survivor and former White House chief of staff, announced the findings today at the National Press Club here as part of a new campaign to make the prevention, cure and survivorship of cancer a priority in next year's presidential elections. About 79 percent of the survey respondents said that it is important that the presidential candidates talk about cancer research and finding a cure for the disease.

"AACR is privileged to work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation and two of the nation's most prominent public figures among cancer survivors," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the Philadelphia-based association. "Our goal is the same: to conquer cancer.

"Today, advances in technology are making it possible for scientists and physicians to explore new ways to prevent cancer, detect its onset at an earlier stage, and tailor treatments to individuals," added Foti. "We stand at a crossroads in history that could see major progress in lowering suffering and death from this disease."

The opinion research firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, in association with pollster Mark Allen of Public Strategies, conducted the bi-partisan survey, interviewing a geographically representative sample of 1,000 Americans, 18 years of age and older. Among other notable responses:

Cancer remains second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death, claiming about 1,500 American lives daily. Economically, the United States lost about $172 billion in the year 2002 from treatment costs, lost productivity and premature deaths from cancer.

"I am living proof of the value of successful cancer research - without it I would not be here today," said testicular cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong. "Other cancer survivors deserve the same opportunity to overcome the disease and live with a great quality of life.

"It's clear that America can do more to help make progress against cancer," Armstrong said. "Our country, including the government and the entire cancer community, needs to make a greater commitment to eliminating this dreadful disease."
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Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research is a professional society of more than 22,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical scientists engaged in cancer research in the United States and in more than 60 other countries. Its principal activities include the publication of five major, peer-reviewed scientific journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. AACR's annual meetings - next year in Orlando, Fla., March 27-31 - attract more than 15,000 participants who share new and significant discoveries in the cancer field. Specialty meetings and workshops throughout the year focus on the latest developments in all areas of cancer research.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) exists to enhance the quality of life for those living with, through, and beyond cancer. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LAF seeks to promote the optimal physical, psychological, social recovery and care of cancer survivors and their loved ones. The LAF works to define, refine and improve services for cancer survivors and to facilitate the delivery of those services - with a large dose of hope - to patients, their families, and other loved ones touched by the disease.

American Association for Cancer Research

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