Society’s understanding of cancer and its ability to tackle it has transformed so much over the past five decades that today, some cancers can even be described as curable, or treatable as a chronic disease.
There are four main reasons why the situation has improved:
- Increased awareness, meaning people recognise the symptoms of cancer earlier
- Improved screening and diagnostic methods, including the identification of biomarkers to allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment
- Prevention methods, such as vaccines and smoking cessation
- More efficacious treatment options and a better understanding of which drugs to use and when to use them
Roche has actively contributed to the transformation of the lives of people with cancer
For more than 50 years, we have developed innovative medicines and diagnostics that help prevent, detect, diagnose, treat and monitor cancer. We strive to transform the lives of people with cancer, as well as those who support them. This is our approach:
Progress in cancer prevention
Benjamin Franklin’s quote; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” certainly rings true with cancer. We invest heavily into research to further our understanding of cancer and its underlying causes. With this knowledge, we helping to to raise awareness and educate healthcare professionals and people about the disease and what can be done to prevent it. For example, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women and a leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Through increasing awareness of the disease and our development of new diagnostic tests for the screening of human papillomavirus (HPV), its primary cause, we have contributed to improved clinical care that has made it possible to prevent cervical cancer for a vast majority of women at risk.
Treating cancer early and effectively positively impacts a patient’s quality of life, reduces the amount of time taken off work and lessens the impact that cancer has on the patient and their family. We invest heavily in disease awareness initiatives around the globe to facilitate earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We have launched many cancer awareness campaigns, for example campaigns in Colombia and the USA which both focus on breast cancer.
Development of innovative screening and diagnostics
We combine our ever-evolving knowledge of cancer biology and technological excellence with real-life clinical experience, allowing us to deliver practice-changing diagnostics that can predict and accurately diagnose the disease. In Morocco we have introduced an initiative in which we have donated HER2 tests to improve access to diagnostic tools.
The evolution of cancer treatments
Progress in cancer has been made through advances in our knowledge and understanding of the disease and its causes. Major ‘breakthroughs’ have transformed several aspects of care. Our medicines, for example, have evolved from early chemotherapy through to highly targeted monoclonal antibodies and immunotherapies. Additionally, innovative technologies such as next-generation sequencing and liquid biopsies are transforming cancer diagnostics, facilitating an evolution in personalised healthcare. These advances have changed the natural course of disease for millions of patients.
Our goal is to be at the forefront of finding cures for cancer.
“Our expansive therapy portfolio contains 14 different cancer medicines across a number of tumour types which collectively treat well over a million people a year. The number of transformative therapies that are reaching patients is accelerating, which is really encouraging,” said Thomas Buechele, Head of Global Medical Affairs, Haematology & Oncology. “That said, despite all of the progress we have seen, around 14 million people will receive a cancer diagnosis each year. For the majority of these people, a cure for their cancer is not yet available – there is still so much work to be done.”
Our long-term vision is to prevent or cure this disease in all its forms, and our scientific rigour, industry-leading pipeline of investigational medicines and cancer immunotherapies, and our passion for progress will continue to advance cancer care in the years ahead.
See below for examples of how we are driving the science in oncology:
1. Cancer Research UK. Can cancer be cured? Last accessed February 2017.
2. Macmillan Cancer Support. Living after diagnosis; median cancer survival times. Last accessed February 2017.
3. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Statistics. Last accessed February 2017.
4. National Institute of Health. Cervical Cancer. Last accessed February 2017.
5. F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. Roche 2016 Annual Report. Last accessed February 2017.
6. Gordon L, et al. Psycho-Oncol. 2007;16(12):1130-9.
7. F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. Roche product portfolio. Last accessed February 2017.