Thursday, July 24, 2008

Neoplasms: 17

This is the seventeenth blog in a series of blogs on neoplasia.

Though there has been little success in curing the advanced common cancers, there has been remarkable success in finding cures for some of the rare cancers, particularly several rare cancers of childhood. Why is it possible to cure rare cancers? Why would rarity have anything to do with curability? In this blog, and in the next few blogs, we'll be exploring the properties of common tumors and how they differ from the properties of rare tumors.

First, lets look at common cancers and see how we've been approaching the problem of their cure.

The general approach to funding cancer research is the same now as it was in the early 1970s; attack cancer tumor by tumor, dividing available funds in rough proportion to the number of people who die from each tumor.

Yesterday, we looked at the top cancer killers of Americans.

List. U.S. death rates and trends for the top 15 cancer sites [1], expressed as rates per 100,000 and age-adjusted.

All Sites 189.8
Lung and Bronchus 54.1
Colon and Rectum 18.8
Breast 14.1
Pancreas 10.6
Prostate 10.1
Leukemia 7.4
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 7.3

Let's compare this with the top funding for cancers, cancer-by-cancer.

List. Cancer funding by NCI, by cancer site, expressed as millions of dollars spent in 2007; data from Office of Budget and Finance [2].

Lung Cancer $226.9 million
Colorectal Cancer $258.4 million
Breast Cancer $572.4 million
Pancreatic Cancer $73.3 million
Prostate Cancer $296.1 million
Leukemia $205.5 million
Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma $113.0 million

All of the other sites receive much less funding. For example, stomach gets $12 million and uterine cancer gets $16.6 million.

Is it not reasonable to fund cancer site-by-site, proportional to the number of people dying from cancer at the different sites? Is there anything wrong with this approach?

This will be the subject of the next blog.

1. [Seer Cancer Stat Fact Sheets. Table I-26 Age-adjusted U.S. death rates and trends for the top 15 cancer sites]

2. [Funding for Various Research Areas.]

-Copyright (C) 2008 Jules J. Berman

key words: cancer, tumor, tumour, carcinogen, neoplasia, neoplastic development, classification, biomedical informatics, tumor development, precancer, benign tumor, ontology, classification, developmental lineage classification and taxonomy of neoplasms

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