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8 Cancer Predictions for 2024

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Leaders at City of Hope, a cancer research and care center in Los Angeles, forecast that in 2024 more people will benefit from cancer breakthroughs.

Although cancer deaths have been decreasing since the 1990s, about 1,680 people are expected to die every day from cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society’s recently released Cancer Facts & Figures. Additionally, more than 2 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year, or about 5,480 diagnoses per day.

Leaders at City of Hope, a cancer research and care center in Los Angeles, have forecast that in 2024 more people will benefit from cancer breakthroughs. In their predictions for the coming year, those at City of Hope say the role of the gut in cancer treatment, more equitable access to optimal cancer care and digitization of clinical trials will take center stage this year

Prediction No. 1: Unlocking the biology behind cancer disparities

Despite significant advancements in cancer research and treatment, racial disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes remain a pressing concern. African American men have a 111% higher risk of dying of prostate cancer than white men. Asian/Pacific Islander adults are twice as likely to die of stomach cancer than white people.

Wide disparities exist between White and Black cancer mortality rates, according to the American Cancer Society. Mortality rates are twice as high for prostate, stomach and uterine corpus cancers in Black people than they are among White people.

John D. Carpten, Ph.D.

John D. Carpten, Ph.D.

“Multidisciplinary approaches to study cancer disparities will become a bigger focus in 2024 as academic medical centers, affected communities and researchers partner to identify and mitigate those factors that dictate disproportionate incidence and mortality rates between populations,” John D. Carpten, Ph.D., director of City of Hope's National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, director of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, chief scientific officer said in a press release.

Prediction No. 2: Gut reactions help shape treatment

The role of bacteria, fungi and viruses in the digestive tracts and their impact on cancer patients will becoming clearer in 2024. In fact, we have as many of these microbes in our guts as we have cells in our bodies.

Marcel van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D.

Marcel van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D.

“The microorganisms in the gut modulate the immune system. There is a direct correlation between a healthy gut and the effectiveness of immune therapies, such as CAR T,” Marcel van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D., president of City of Hope Los Angeles and City of Hope National Medical Center, chief physician executive and the Deana and Steve Campbell Chief Physician Executive Distinguished Chair, said in a press release.

Prediction No. 3: Rapid genome sequencing to identify targeted therapies

A patient’s complete genetic information provides insight into the best treatment for each patient’s unique cancer. This combination of speed and the complete genomic data set is particularly important for people with blood cancers who have to go through multiple rounds of genetic testing. Some patients wait for days, weeks or even months to get results of all the genetic testing that is pivotal to guiding treatment.

Prediction No. 4: Early detection will be key to curing many cancers

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, the number of cancer cases in the United States will increase to 2.3 million by 2030. The majority are caused by an accumulation of mutations in the DNA of cells over time. The most advanced cancer institutions are focusing on the promise of “precision prevention,” which combines molecular knowledge and risk stratification to develop an accurate understanding of an individual's actual cancer risk. Other advances point to blood tests that screen for a multitude of cancer types in their earliest stages.

Prediction No. 5: Digitization and decentralization of clinical trials

Clinical trials offer patients access to promising new therapies long before they become the standard of care, but 19 out of 20 people with cancer cannot enroll in a trial because of rigid eligibility criteria. Digitization and decentralization — where all or some of the trial-related activities occur outside of traditional trial sites — is part of the solution, according to Edward S. Kim, M.D., MBA, physician-in-chief, City of Hope Orange County, vice physician-in-chief, City of Hope National Medical Center, and the Construction Industries Alliance City of Hope Orange County Physician-in-Chief Chair.

Prediction No. 6: Policy changes and partnerships expand access to optimal cancer care

There will be an even greater focus on policy discussions about value and access in cancer care, building on recent momentum in this area. Collaborative partnerships and policy reforms will begin to catalyze equitable access to the latest innovations, including clinical trials, precision medicine and genomic technologies.

“There will be increased momentum around making sure insurance networks include appropriate access to the latest treatments. We’ll also see tighter partnerships between community oncologists and academic medical centers, so patients can seamlessly receive the care they require in the right place at the right time,” according to Harlan Levine, M.D., president of health innovation and policy for City of Hope.

Prediction No. 7: CAR T reaches more people

Immunotherapy harnesses the patient’s own immune system to combat cancer. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy in which immune cells are reprogrammed to recognize and attack a specific protein found in cancer cells. CAR T technology will likely have wider application for more cancer types. However, access to CAR T cell therapy faces formidable challenges — manufacturing complexities, high costs and inadequate reimbursement.

Leslie Popplewell, M.D.

Leslie Popplewell, M.D.

“While we are optimistic about CAR T-cell therapy, we are acutely aware that we must address healthcare disparities, enhance physician expertise and establish more specialized centers in more communities,” said Leslie Popplewell, M.D., hematology and blood and marrow transplant medical director, City of Hope Atlanta.

Prediction No. 8: Generational shifts in philanthropic giving

Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the biggest generational group in the United States, with an estimated population of 72.24 million. These generational shifts also impact philanthropic giving as more younger people understand the importance of supporting organizations that are making significant changes in health.

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