Beckerle and HuntsmansIn an average year, more than 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 600,000 will die of the disease. In Utah alone, 10,800 people receive a cancer diagnosis annually, and nearly 3,000 will succumb to this disease.* In addition to the tremendous emotional toll on our families and communities, cancer costs Utahns nearly $1 billion each year in direct medical costs.**

These figures are sobering, but cancer’s devastating effects are precisely what drive our passion to eradicate it.

First, let us step back and consider where we’ve come from since a War on Cancer was declared in 1971:

The five-year survival rate for pediatric cancers is now 80%. Only 40 years ago, it was less than 50%. For some adult cancers, including prostate, breast, and cervical cancers, the five-year survival rate is more than 90%. Only a few decades ago, these diseases were a death sentence. In 1971, there were 3 million cancer survivors in the United States. Today, there are nearly 14 million survivors.***

The numbers are impressive, but we can and must do better. We must do better for the 20% of children with cancer who lose their battle, for people with cancers with poor survival rates, and for those who carry a family history of cancer.

This passion to eradicate cancer brought together our community in an extraordinary partnership to accelerate Utah’s role in the fight against cancer. In 2013, Huntsman Cancer Foundation, with generous support from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Intermountain Healthcare, announced a major research expansion at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI): The Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center. This expansion will double the size of our cancer research operations with state-of-the-art infrastructure to advance research on cancers that impact children and families—and our whole community.

Utah is a world leader in cancer genetics, where the scientific work took place leading to the discovery of major cancer susceptibility genes for breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma, among others. These discoveries were possible because of the Utah Population Database, HCI’s unparalleled research resource that is one of the largest genetic databases linked to clinical and demographic information in the world. We will build upon this foundation as we advance our cancer research discoveries in the future.

What’s possible is a time of unprecedented opportunity and discovery in cancer research. Utah is THE PLACE. The time is NOW.

Sources: *American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2014; **Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), 2013 independent analysis; ***American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts and Figures 2012-2013