March 1, 2007
Funding shortage and ignorance hurt pancreatic cancer fight
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Now even the clinical trials might be in trouble.
For several years running, the government has not increased funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and last year the institute cut funding for clinical trials by 20 percent.
"Obviously that cut impacts all cancer, but for cancers that do not have a highly developed clinical portfolio, it is even more devastating," PanCAN's Thompson said.
Pancreatic cancer receives approximately $2,000 per patient in funding from the NCI, while breast cancer receives $13,800 per patient, according to Thompson.
It is especially frustrating, Thompson says, because of the vicious cycle that low funding has created. Because higher profile cancers got the bulk of initial NCI funding in the 1970s, and again when it was increased in the 1990s, less common cancers have lagged even further behind in research and treatments. Now, with NCI's clinical and research budgets being cut, more promising and advanced research is once again getting priority.
"At a time like this, when we are just beginning to make some small progress, there isn't any money to keep our work moving to the next level," Thompson said.
But most progress at this point is somewhat meaningless for Lowenstein. She's been to several PanCAN conferences, where researchers share their latest findings, with promises of great progress in the next decade.
"They're very excited, and it takes all my restraint not to go up and punch them, because I don't have five to 10 years," Lowenstein said.
"I need progress in five to 10 weeks."
Johns Hopkins University, pathology.jhu.edu/pancreas.
UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, www.cancer.mednet.ucla.edu.
For more information on the trails, call Dr. James Farrell at 310-267-4664, or e-mail JFarrell@mednet.ucla.edu.
National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov
American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, PanCAN, www.pancan.org
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