Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Inequitable Funding of Cancer Research

"It is a great concern to us. [The relationship between public awareness through public relations campaigns resulting in research funding for the particular cancers those campaigns target.]"
"The rate of death from pancreatic cancer has now surpassed that of breast cancer..."
"By 2020, it will be the number-two cancer killer."
Michelle Capobianco, executive director, Pancreatic Cancer Canada

A new research study out of Queen's University has revealed troubling gaps in research focusing on individual cancers as opposed to the lethal toll that each disease takes. The finding outlined that cancers behind which marketing events led people's attention to those particular cancers have a decided edge on cancers that might be more prevalent and deadlier in their outcomes but which lack the public appeal to motivate toward research support.

Added to that seemingly insurmountable lead for cancers for which research is popularly supported through marketing and public support in focus and in fund-raising there is the additional problem related to the stigma which is attached to particular cancers where those sufferers are held by popular opinion to be responsible for their own malign health condition. To speak of lung cancer is to conjure up visions of lifetime smokers.

Malignancies of the lung account for four of every ten Canadians suffering and dying from cancer. So when just 15 percent of North American clinical trials have their focus on the disease, something certainly seems awry with respect to priorities. Then there is the issue of breast cancers which are responsible for ten percent of mortality as from 2013 (the study year), but toward which 30 percent of clinical trials are directed.

The research that focuses on each of the various types of cancer directly reflects the funding available through money raised by public fund-raising events launched by self-interested groups adopting those cancers as the disease whose fund-raising they are prepared to support above all others. A personal stake that arises out of skillful public relations events and personal identification with sufferers gives an enormous advantage to that specific disease.

No one could be too critical of scientific findings that advance knowledge of various types of cancer and the treatment that best address newer protocols to treat patients. But the defined focus on breast and prostate cancers means that other, perhaps more common and deadlier cancers are left with inadequate research being carried forward.

The research team from Queen's University examined North American research papers and clinical trial results published throughout 2013 focusing on the ten most lethal cancers, and the research-and-care funding allocated to each.According to Dr. Chris Booth, medical oncologist and Canada research chair in cancer population care, the study's leader, the disparity extent "was quite striking. There were huge differences."

As an example, colorectal cancer accounting for almost 14 percent of cancer deaths in North America yet had less than six percent of clinical trials published in 2013 while prostate cancer was the subject of 17 percent of trials and the disease represents less than eight percent of mortality. Breast cancer received 28 times more funding per patient ($14,000) than bladder cancer ($600).

Because of the outcome of the deadliest cancers there are fewer survivors to dedicate themselves to fashioning public campaigns. Though lung cancer also has the misfortune to be linked to tobacco use, irrespective of the fact that many lung cancer patients are non-smokers, the reality is that the link becomes a negative in the public mind.

"There is this overwhelming public perception: you must have brought it on yourself" University of Toronto's Margaret Fitch explains from the perspective of her psychosocial research around lung cancer.

  • Lung Cancer : 40.5% of cancer deaths: 16% of clinical trials: 12% of funding;
  • Colorectal Cancer: 13.5% of deaths: 5.7% of clinical trials: 11.4% of funding;
  • Breast Cancer: 10% of deaths: 30% of trials: 41% of funding;
  • Pancreas Cancer: 10% of deaths: 5% of trials: 6% of funding;
  • Prostate Cancer: 7.6% of deaths: 17% of trials: 20.5% of funding;
  • Gastroesophageal Cancer: 6.7% of deaths: 3.3% of trials: 2% of funding;
  • Bladder Cancer: 4% of deaths: 3.8% of trials: 0.7% of funding;
  • Kidney Cancer: 3.5% of deaths: 6.8% of trials: 2.2% of funding;
  • Melanoma Cancer: 2.4% of deaths: 8.4% of trials: 3% of funding;
  • Uterine Cancer: 2% of deaths: 3.3% of trials: 1% of funding.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet