Worldwide, in 2020, there was an estimated 19.3 million new cancer cases and almost 10 million cancer deaths. Breast cancer accounted for 11.7%, closely followed by lung (11.4%), colorectal (10.0 %), prostate (7.3%), and stomach (5.6%) cancers. Lung cancer remained the leading cause of cancer death, with an estimated 1.8 million deaths (18%).
In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer, and another 1.3 million people lost their lives to it, including over 2,000 young people. Cancer cases are set to increase by 24% by 2035, making it the leading cause of death in the EU. This stark fact has led to the EU dedicating €4 billion of funding to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.
In the US, the American Cancer Society reported in their 2021 Facts & Figures report that more than 608,000 people will die from cancer. That number has increased from just above 500,000 in 1990. The report also notes that improvements in survival rates over time do not always indicate progress against cancer in spite of all the new drugs that have emerged since then.
Of increasing concern is the rising prevalence of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) across the globe due to increasing air pollution, current and historical unhealthy work environments, and smoking habits. This will lead to increasing patient numbers in the coming years. The American Cancer Society estimated about 235,760 new lung cancer patients diagnosed in 2021 in the US.
The high cost of anti-cancer drugs, potential side effects, quality of life after treatment, low survival rate in difficult to treat cancers, and the globally increasing patient population will inevitably lead to rising investment in R&D of cancer therapies. It remains to be seen if any truly innovative clinically effective therapies will emerge in the short to medium term. Celtic Biotech's candidates are aimed at that category.