This year marks the 50th anniversary of the December 1971 signing of the National Cancer Act, which led to the establishment of the National Cancer Program and significantly expanded the authorities and responsibilities of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).Logo for National Cancer Act Anniversary

Federal funding for cancer research has led to significant advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life for patients, leading to a record 16.9 million survivors of cancer alive in the United States today.

Virtually every American has been touched by cancer, and voters in the United States overwhelmingly support greater investment in cancer research. The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2017 National Cancer Opinion Survey found that 73% of Americans support the government spending more on finding treatments and cures for cancer—even if it means higher taxes or adding to the deficit.

Over recent years, there has been bipartisan support in Congress for increased investment for biomedical research. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, Congress provided a $1.25 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including a $120 million increase for NCI.

Despite this progress and strong public support for cancer research, funding for the NCI has not kept pace with research opportunities. From 2013-2019, funding for the NCI increase by about 20%, during the same timeframe R01 grant applications rose by 50%; meaning promising science is going unfunded. Low success rates for grant applications make it challenging to attract and retain talented cancer researchers, and means we’re missing out on possible new treatments.

In addition, the COVID-19 public health emergency threatens to reverse years of momentum. Labs conducting cancer research have closed as space has been redirected to COVID-19 research. Clinical trials have halted or slowed, creating a costly loss in research progress and delays in patient access to potentially life-saving treatments. The NIH and NCI need emergency funding on top of a robust annual increase to their baseline budgets to mitigate disruptions caused by the pandemic and get the nation’s biomedical research enterprise up and running again.

The Association for Clinical Oncology is urging Congress to continue building on its investment in cancer research to maintain the pace of scientific discovery and continue progress against cancer. Take action and urge your representatives in Congress to support federal funding for cancer research.

Additional Resources


Federally Funded Research Badge Download

ASCO has created a badge to highlight research that has received federal funding. This badge is featured in the Cancer Progress Timeline and Clinical Cancer Advances reports.

Free use of badge with following tagline: "The Federally Funded Research logo is a trademark of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Used with permission. For more information, visit the Federally Funded Cancer Research homepage."Federally funded research badge

Review the Trademark License Agreement before downloading. You may begin using the badge immediately; right-click to save to your hard drive.