Protecting Progress for Patients with Cancer

Protecting Progress for Patients with Cancer

Although the year is winding down, awareness initiatives continue to ramp up in support of the approximately 1.8 million people living with cancer in the U.S. November is a particularly important month, as it puts the spotlight on patients living with two types of cancer – lung and gastric – and those that care for them. At Daiichi Sankyo, we support these communities with compassion and encouragement as we work to develop new therapies for patients in need.


Both lung and gastric cancers have a far-reaching impact. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S., with an estimated 228,000 new cases expected this year alone.[1],[2] And, while gastric cancer is less common in the U.S. – with an estimated 27,600 new cases expected this year – it is the fifth most common cancer globally, with more than one million new cases diagnosed in 2018.[3],[4] These cancers are also among the deadliest: lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally (attributing to 1.76 million deaths in 2018), and gastric cancer is the third (with 783,000 deaths in 2018).[5] What’s more – these figures don’t include the estimated 43 million caregivers across the U.S. impacted by these devastating diseases. These caregivers include family and friends who play a critical role in tending to the needs of their loved ones.[6]


In recent years, major advances in the early detection, treatment and management of cancer have successfully contributed to a decline in the overall cancer death rate in the U.S., reporting a reduction by 29% from 1991 to 2017.[7] The introduction of biomarker testing has also played a role, helping to best match patients with treatments that have the potential to best treat their cancer.[8] In addition, the development of resources specifically geared to caregivers has enabled them to better equip themselves to provide the best care possible for their loved ones and motivate them to keep fighting.[9]


Unfortunately, this progress is being threatened – and tested – by the COVID-19 global pandemic. While research is ongoing, we have seen a steep decline in cancer screenings, with up to a 94% decrease in appointments in March 2020 compared to the previous three year averages.[10] Researchers have also noted a 74% decrease in new diagnoses in a range of cancers in April 2020 compared to last year.[11] These patterns suggest that the disease may not be monitored regularly and might progress in many. In addition, experts predict a greater toll on patients and caregivers, as well as a rise in cancer deaths in the coming years as cases are diagnosed in later stages.[12]


The pandemic has also been challenging for those already diagnosed, as they have had to weigh the risk of delaying their treatment against the risk of contracting the virus. Also, caregivers have largely been unable to accompany their loved ones to their appointments, treatments or well visits, hindering their ability to assist patients with making important care decisions. Caregivers may also carry the emotional burden of having to leave their loved ones in isolation during this time, while facing financial hardship in light of the economic downturn that has accompanied the pandemic.[13]


As a community, we must come together to ensure that our progress does not falter. At Daiichi Sankyo, we are supporting the lung, gastric and caregiver communities in this challenging time by:

  • Assisting with education through webinars and virtual summits, to give patients and caregivers the opportunity to gather information from the safety of their homes;
  • Providing resources to advocacy organizations around biomarker testing, so that patients and caregivers understand the important role testing plays in guiding timely treatment decisions;
  • Sharing stories about our colleagues’ personal caregiving connections to these cancers, to educate our broader team and share tips on how they can advocate for these communities.


As we enter a season synonymous with gratitude, we are thankful for the advocates, doctors, nurses and caregivers who help lung and gastric cancer patients along their journeys, even in the face of the pandemic. We are grateful to you – our readers – for your personal efforts to help patients and their families, and we are grateful that through our work we can stay true to our mission of bringing “Compassion for Patients” to life. We will get through this together.





[1] American Lung Association. Lung Cancer Fact Sheet. Last accessed October 13, 2020. Available at:,some%20point%20in%20their%20lives.&text=During%202018%2C%20an%20estimated%20234%2C030,percent%20of%20all%20cancer%20diagnoses.

[2]American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Lung Cancer. Last accessed October 13, 2020. Available at:

[3] American Cancer Society. Key Statistics About Stomach Cancer. Last accessed October 13, 2020. Available at:

[4] World Cancer Research Found. Stomach cancer statistics. Last accessed October 13, 2020. Available at:

[5]World Health Organization. Cancer. Last accessed October 13, 2020. Available at:

[6] Family Caregiver Alliance. Caregiver Statistics: Demographics. Last accessed October 26, 2020. Available at:

[7]American Cancer Society. Facts & Figures 2020 Reports Largest One-year Drop in Cancer Mortality. Last accessed October 13, 2020. Available at:

[8] Howlader, Nadia et al. The Effect of Advances in Lung-Cancer Treatment on Population Mortality. N Engl J Med 2020;383:640-9. Published August 13, 2020.

[9] American Cancer Society. What Is a Cancer Caregiver? Last accessed October 18, 2020. Available at

[10] Epic Health Research Network: Preventive cancer screenings during COVID-19 pandemic. Accessed August 20, 2020. Available at

[11]London, Jack W, et al. Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic On Cancer-Related Patient Encounters. JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics no. 4 (2020) 657-665. Published online July 27, 2020.

[12] Lai, Alvina, et al. Estimating excess mortality in people with cancer and multimorbidity in the COVID-19 emergency. ResearchGate.

[13] Caregiver Action Network. National Family Caregivers Month. Last accessed October 18, 2020. Available at