Progress & Timeline


Share This Page

National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration & Walk in Chicago, June 2010

Major Milestones Against Cancer

As a result of the nation's investment in clinical cancer research, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. Today, two out of three people live at least five years after a cancer diagnosis, up from roughly one out of two in the 1970s. The nation's cancer death rate has dropped 18 percent since the early 1990s, reversing decades of increases.

This progress reflects advances over the last 40 years in every area of cancer care: prevention, screening, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and – increasingly – molecularly targeted treatments. At the same time, better ways of managing nausea, pain, and other side effects are enabling patients to live better, more fulfilling lives.

The Cancer Progress Timeline highlights some of the most important advances that have contributed to progress against cancer. From the first chemotherapy (1949) to the newest targeted treatments, nearly all of these milestones are the result of rigorously conducted clinical trials, made possible by the participation of thousands of individual patients with cancer.

Download the timelineExplore the Statistics
Click to zoom in to any date on timeline.
Click for more information on a specific date.