Cancer Funding: Dollars to Deaths

Contributed by John McLean, COO, HIFU Prostate Services

Where do dollars for cancer funding go and why?When it comes to cancer funding, who decides what cancer is the most important, and deserves the most funding? Should cancers that occur more frequently and impact the most people receive the bulk of the money? Or maybe cancers that amount to more deaths yearly?

With billions of dollars spent every year in the United States on cancer research, someone must determine where all the money goes and why.

In 2016, the top five most common cancers based on new cases annually are the following:

  1. Breast: 247,000
  2. Lung (including Bronchus): 225,000
  3. Prostate: 181,000
  4. Colon and Rectal: 135,000
  5. Bladder: 76,000

In 2016, the top five cancers based on deaths annually are the following:

  1. Lung (including Bronchus):159,000
  2. Colon and Rectal:50,000
  3. Pancreatic: 42,000
  4. Breast: 41,000
  5. Prostate: 26,000

The magnitude of deaths and diagnoses do not necessarily correspond with more money dedicated to research for that particular type of cancer. For example, prostate cancer deaths account for 4.4 percent of all cancer deaths annually while breast cancer mounts to 6.6 percent.

However, when it comes to funding, breast cancer receives double the amount of funding compared with prostate cancer. There are many different factors that may contribute to disparity in funding, including popularity of fundraising nonprofit organization, prominence of the cancer, previous research success, and potential return on investment.

  • Breast: $88,157,500
  • Colon and Rectal: $51,216,600
  • Lung (including Bronchus): $49,308,100
  • Prostate: $42,766,252
  • Pancreatic: $16,635,000
  • Bladder & Others: $101,801,600**

In recent years, cancer research and funding have advanced treatment knowledge for many different types of cancer and prostate cancer is no exception. Recent studies show how androgen receptors in the prostate affect the potential development and advancement of prostate cancer. This could eventually lead to a breakthrough in successfully targeting these androgen receptors with hormone therapy, limiting side effects and providing another treatment option for men. With breast cancer, research has discovered the Amphiregulin gene and the significance it plays in controlling the cell generation in certain types of breast cancer. Further knowledge of this gene could allow doctors to control and target this gene to eliminate breast cancer.

Without critical funding, cancer will continue to claim lives. Knowledge grants doctors the ability to fine-tune their treatments for various scenarios and patients. Prostate cancer patients especially, benefit from many different treatment options due to the sometimes prolonged development of the disease. Doctors often have time to test different methods based on a patient’s history or other factors to find a treatment that provides the best care with the fewest side effects. The more they know, the better they can predict any potential hazards when determining the best plan for treatment.

**Bladder cancer funding was a one of 30 cancer types grouped in all “Other Cancers,” so the total funding for actual bladder cancer is much lower.

About the Author

John McleanAs Chief Operations Officer, John McLean is responsible for managing several aspects of the company, including: marketing, operations, development, training and technology.  Prior to joining HIFU Prostate Services, McLean spent 8 years working for SonaCare Medical, the worldwide leader in HIFU technologies; the developer and manufacturer of the Sonablate HIFU system.

McLean has been a part of several hundred Sonablate HIFU procedures as a technician including a large portion of the clinical trial procedures. McLean is one of the most experienced HIFU engineers in the United States and has assisted in the training of several HIFU engineers, and over a hundred physicians for SonaCare Medical. Additionally, he was an integral part of the Sonablate team that recently launched the technology, after FDA approval, as a product manager for the Sonablate HIFU system.

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