Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cancer death rates down but...

Cancer death rates are down for the more 'popular' cancers in general in the last few decades. But then the old 80/20 rule kicks in and these cancers get most of the research and as a result the 'unpopular' cancer death rates aren't really going anywhere.

So here's an article on how colon cancer rates are down. It used to be the most common cancer killer in the US. Now it is dramatically down because of screening - those lovely colonoscopies that we all love so much.

However as this Australian article points out the cancers that are not as common, don't have ribbon decorated walks, runs, months, etc, often don't get as much funding and the death rates haven't budged. These cancers include:

Although these numbers refer to Australia and the video includes the comment that people leave the country for elsewhere for treatment for these under researched cancers, I think that the proportion is probably similar elsewhere. And the point is still valid - the cancers that do not receive the research dollars are the ones where the death rates have not declined.

Another area where research dollars are lacking is in metastatic cancer - cancer which has spread and cannot be cured. For example, a very small portion of breast cancer research dollars goes to metastatic breast cancer research. Yes metastatic breast cancer is incurable but if there was more research, patients might live longer and more comfortably.

It seems to me that cancer research gets to the point of here are clues on its origin but less information and research is done on how its spread. I know researchers are trying to find how to stop metastases and there is a long way to go.

So while the big picture may get a nice rosy hint in the news headlines, there are details behind it which aren't quite as bright.

1 comment:

Jennifer Clark said...

Yes, Cancer has became the fast growing disease in the last decade. Informative post! Thanks for sharing.