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How cancer research funding is helping save lives

Why cancer research funding is important for finding advancements in treatment
Why cancer research funding is important for finding advancements in treatment 02:37

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Millions of lives have been saved because of advances in cancer research, according to a new progress report. Thursday, advocates were at the nation's capital pushing for more money to keep the momentum going.

Beating cancer depends on finding it early, and doctors say the screenings are better now and the treatments have improved dramatically. However, it all depends on research -- which means money – and that's become a life mission for one Philadelphia cancer patient.

Colbert English figured it was just a matter of time and wasn't surprised when he was diagnosed was cancer. 

"Cancer runs in my family. My mother died of cancer, my sister died of cancer," said English, who has stage-4 treatable but incurable prostate cancer.

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He's a patient at Fox Chase and is now joining The Rally For Medical Research, whose advocates are meeting with Congressional representatives in hopes of getting more money for cancer research.

"If it will help someone -- one person -- because of additional funding that's provided, that could lead to that breakthrough," English said.

Some research breakthroughs have led to a 33% reduction in cancer deaths over the past 30 years, according to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). That translates to 18 million cancer survivors in 2022, compared to three million in 1971.

"What's going on now is so incredible. It's such an exciting time," said AACR president, Dr. Philip Greenberg.

Dr. Greenberg said advances in treatments, like immunotherapy, have been a game changer.

"Each year, we get better and better at being more and more precise," he said.

That's why the AACR wants Congress to increase national institutes of health funding by $3.4 billion.

"This is such a time of opportunity in cancer research, it would be really sad to see this halted or delayed," Dr. Greenberg said.

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English, who also has a heart issue, knows the research won't be able to help him but he's hopeful other patients in the future will be able to benefit from the funding he's working to get.

"If I have to do cartwheels, I'll take nitroglycerin first and I'll do cartwheels," English joked.

English said he wants to also help raise awareness about cancer detection, adding that he now regrets not checking on PSA testing that can find early signs of prostate cancer.  It's something he doesn't want to happen to others. 

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