Rye Brook, NY, June 1, 2016 – While divisiveness rules many issues, there is strong agreement among Americans of different political persuasions when it comes to investing in the fight against cancer. According to a new survey, Finding Cancer Cures, there is widespread support for the Moonshot to End Cancer initiative President Obama launched this year, as 82 percent of Americans polled want the next president of the United States to continue to invest in the program. A large majority of Democrats (90 percent), Republicans (73 percent) and Independents (77 percent) are unified in support of extending the Moonshot program into the next presidency.
The new survey from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s leading voluntary health non-profit dedicated to fighting blood cancers, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of Americans’ attitudes on the effort needed to eliminate cancer and the progress that has been made since President Nixon declared a war on the disease 45 years ago.
“The Moonshot program is forging scientific collaboration to accelerate the advancements in research that will get us to a world without cancer,” stated Dr. Louis J. DeGennaro, president and CEO of LLS. “It is clear from this survey that Americans recognize the need to increase the investment toward a goal that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been committed to for more than 65 years.”
To date, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough therapies and is currently funding more than 300 research projects. Many of the treatments first approved for blood cancer patients are now helping patients with other cancers.
How Much Money is Enough
The survey found that respondents are almost evenly split on whether the $1 billion government investment in the Moonshot is enough; 44 percent of those polled say it is the right amount while 42 percent think more funding is necessary. Those age 55 and older were more inclined than younger people to think more was needed (54 percent vs. 38 percent), as were those self-identified as Republicans (45 percent) and Independents (46 percent), compared with Democrats (40 percent).
Among the respondents calling for additional funding, the amount that they believe is sufficient is fairly evenly divided between those who think the investment should be $2-5 billion (32 percent), $6-10 billion (34 percent) and more than $10 billion (34 percent).
The survey also shows that a majority of Americans (60 percent) want the research dollars used to find cures, while 29 percent say the focus should be on developing better detection methods to find cancer at its earliest stage; another 12 percent want the investment toward developing better drugs that allow people to survive longer with fewer side effects.
No matter the level of investment believed required, the vast majority of Americans are optimistic that a cure will be found within the next 20 years, with nearly half saying it will take 10 years or less to succeed. Males and younger adults aged 18-34 are most optimistic that there will be cures soon.
“As there are virtually no means of preventing or screening for most blood cancers, we at LLS are focused on finding cures,” said Dr. DeGennaro. “While there’s never a good time to get cancer, this is a phenomenal time to be fighting it.”
Drug Cost & Quality of Life
Respondents expressed concerns about the cost of new cancer drugs, with 60 percent saying that pharmaceutical companies are pricing them too high, although one in four believe that money is being put to good use by fueling research into new and better drugs.
When considering if they’d use a drug that could extend their life if they were diagnosed with cancer, the most important factor for nearly one-third of respondents was how the treatment would affect their quality of life. Other factors that were important to many included the amount of time the drug would prolong their life (23 percent) and how much it would cost (18 percent). Fourteen percent of those polled say that extending their life would be the number one priority no matter what, with African Americans being the demographic group most inclined to feel that way (22 percent).
While Americans are clearly hopeful about finding cancer cures, they are less aware of how much progress has already been made. In fact, more than two-thirds of those polled did not know that a preventive vaccine already exists – the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that’s been shown to be highly successful at preventing cervical cancer.
More than half of those polled did not know there are pills taken orally that can control cancer, such as Gleevec, which is used to treat a type of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Additionally, less than half of Americans polled (46 percent) are aware that there are targeted drugs to treat cancer, while just more than half (54 percent) are aware of immunotherapies.
Respondents drastically underestimate the number of new cancer treatments in the pipeline, either in clinical trials or awaiting FDA approval. Nearly one in two believe there are less than 100 when in fact the number is more than 800.
The survey was conducted online for LLS by Russell Research between April 22, 2016 and April 25, 2016 among 1,025 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.