More people are surviving cancer than ever before in the United States, according to a new report from the American Association for Cancer Research.

In the past three years, the number of cancer survivors in the US – defined as living people who have had a cancer diagnosis – increased by more than a million. There are 18 million survivors in the US as of January, and that number is expected to grow to 26 million by 2040, the association said. The report notes that there were only 3 million US cancer survivors in 1971.

Declines in smoking and improvements in catching and treating cancer early are driving the change, according to the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2022, released last week.

Dr. Lisa Coussens, president of the association, said in a statement that part of the credit goes to an investment in research – both for treatments and for understanding the disease.

“Targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and other new therapeutic approaches being applied clinically all stem from fundamental discoveries in basic science,” Coussens said. “Investment in cancer science, as well as support for science education at all levels, is absolutely essential to drive the next wave of discoveries and accelerate progress.”

Increased funding for cancer research is a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s relaunched Cancer Moonshot initiative.

Biden – who lost a son to brain cancer – said this month that his goal is to cut cancer death rates in the United States by at least half in the next 25 years.