The American Cancer Society is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. During those years, cancer has transformed from deadly to treatable and from treatable to preventable.
That progress will be the focus of Bassett Healthcare’s physician and chief of radiation oncology Dr. Timothy Campbell’s speech on Friday. Organizers of the Cooperstown/Otsego County Relay For Life recently announced he will be the guest speaker at the event’s opening ceremony set to begin at 6 p.m.
Campbell said when looking back at what has happened within the last 30 to 40 years there have been significant advancements. However, he added: “People think the word cancer has gone nowhere because we do not have a cure, but it is really a very complicated disease. It is not just one disease, it is hundreds of diseases.”
There probably will not be one big cure, but instead multiple ones, according to the doctor. He said there have been “huge” improvements in survival rates.
“There are just many, many people now who will be diagnosed with cancer and can be cured with what we can do that wasn’t available in 1970,” Campbell said.
Cancer survival rates, according to the American Cancer Society, have increased from 49 percent in 1975 to 67 percent in 2012. Improvement is credited to progress in diagnosing cancer at earlier stages and advancements in cancer treatment.
Campbell said Bassett has a clinical trial program that can get patients into most trials that are available nationally. He said cure rates for children with cancer are much higher than for others because they are primarily treated through clinical trials.
“There are a number of groups out there, and the American Cancer Society is certainly one of them, that support clinical trial work and that is really the future of getting that, quote, cure,” he said.
The American Cancer Society has invested more than $3.3 billion in cancer research since the program began in 1946. In New York State alone, 95 cancer research grants totaling $49 million dollars are currently in effect, according to a media release from the organization.