May is National Cancer Research Month, just another reminder that the key to future advances in the fight against mesothelioma — and all cancers — is the funding that supports the work still to be done.
The United States Congress designated the month of May as National Cancer Research Month first in 2007 and again in 2011, at the urging of numerous sponsors.
“Cancer research is the way forward,” said Judy Garber, M.D., past president of the American Association for Cancer Research. “It’s the way to make things better.”
Garber, in a video on the AACR website, talked about the high cost of cancer research that requires such a huge financial commitment, from both the public and private sectors; about the wide scope of research that is needed to reach a wide variety of diseases under the heading of cancer; and the issue of making the research results and the cancer treatments more affordable for everyone.
Mesothelioma, which is caused primarily by exposure to asbestos, is diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 Americans each year, which helps explain the small percentage of funding that goes specifically to this disease, even though it is a complex cancer with unique characteristics.
Pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of the disease, often develops in the lining around the lungs, many years after the initial inhalation of asbestos fibers.
When it comes to research, mesothelioma often falls under the umbrella of lung cancer, even though there are distinct differences.
And lung cancer research funding, based on how many people it effects, is dwarfed by that of other cancers. An estimated 215,000 new cases of lung cancer are reported annually in the United States, and approximately 160,000 people will die from it. It is more than the number that will die from breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.
According to the website Knowcancer.com, the amount of funding-per-lung cancer-death is only $1,415, as compared to breast cancer funding ($13,991) and prostate cancer ($10,945) funding.
It’s another reason that mesothelioma advocates work so hard in raising awareness.
The amount of funding for each disease often is reflected in the number of clinical trials, new treatments and researchers allocated to each cancer. February was National Cancer Prevention Month.
The fight for research money never has been more critical, particularly at a time when the national deficit is burgeoning, and Congress is squabbling over the 2013 federal budget.