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  • Posted: 09/21/2012

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Press Opportunity

What Impedes Cancer Research?: NCI Director Harold Varmus to address National Press Club


Over the past forty years, the National Cancer Institute has spent roughly $90 billion dollars on research to understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. This effort has had many benefits, most importantly a decline in age-adjusted death rates, which are the best indicators of progress against cancer.  According to the most recent analyses, overall cancer death rates have decreased since the 1990s at an average of over 1 percent per year; for children, cancer death rates have been in decline since the 1970s.  Furthermore, scientists now possess new tools to study how cancer arises, vaccines to prevent virus-induced cancers, new understanding of how cancer cells behave, and ways to match new drugs to targets in individual tumors that contain specific kinds of genetic damage.  Still, cancer remains a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the world; in this year alone, more than 1.5 million in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer, and more than half a million will die from it.

The barriers that impede greater and faster progress against cancer include the inherent biological properties of tumors; the difficulties of developing new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancers; and economic and social factors that slow the nation’s cancer research efforts.  These barriers will be discussed in ways that illuminate current paradoxes in medical research and illustrate paths that science agencies can take to circumvent such barriers to progress.

Nobel Laureate and former director of the National Institutes of Health, Harold Varmus, now director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute, ­will discuss the barriers that impede the nation’s ability to make faster progress against cancer as part of the National Press Club's invited Newsmaker series.  He will take questions following his remarks.


                         Tuesday, September 25, 2012
                         10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.       

                         National Press Club
                         529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor
                         Washington, D.C

                         NCI Director Harold Varmus, M.D.  


                         To schedule interviews after the press briefing, contact NCI press officers
                         at (301) 496-6641 or