Given limited resources for research, should we spend more on cancer?

Some good answers here, some utter garbage. In the UK we spend around 500 million pounds a year on Cancer research, a lot you think? Really? This includes clinical research basic research (we do not understand the biology of cancer well enough, or human physiology for that matter) and public research on medication.

We spend 53 000 millions on our defense! And still we produced disasters like in Iraq, Lybia, Syria and Afghanistan. This is a hundred times more! Now you tell me what seems more important to our society, cancer or military? Maybe we need to spend this money on defense. But, if we want to cure cancer we should simply take it more serious, put our money where our mouth is.

Despite what I would call chronic under spending, three times more women survive breast cancer now than 20 years ago, CML is practically cured (80% of cases, using Gleevac) and childhood leukemias can also practically be cured.

Even the industry has an interest to cure cancer (and earn a fortune in the process) as there is no general cure for cancer, and never will be. So if a medication or treatment cures or improves the outcome for a certain type of cancer, the industry can earn billions worldwide and still develop a lot more to earn a lot more, so all these conspiracies about the industry not wanting to help are utter rubbish. The pharma industry is not prepared to develop new antibiotics, as they can only charge a couple of hundred pounds per treatment. For a good new cancer treatment they can charge easy 50 000 pounds per year (this is the maximum the NHS will potentially pay for any treatment that they evaluate as giving one moe year of quality adjusted life).

We are designed to get cancer. as cancer is a disease of old age (most cases over 50), so evolution never cared to not let us get cancer.

There are over 200 cancer types by cell type involved. Cancer genome studies (so far only performed on a couple of cancers) show that there are maybe a dozen “typical” events/mutations that occour in a given cancer, but these are main groups, in reality there are thousands of events. So any given cancer contains thousands of genetically and metabolically different cells. If a certain cancer treatment gets rid of over 90% of the cancer cells (most do), the body (immune system) might be able to get rid of the rest. If it can not, the cancer comes back, but it is not the same cancer, it will not respond to the initial treatment any more. The immune system is very important in this, as in every single one of us cancer-like cells arise on a daily basis, and we only see those that escape the immune system.

The next cure is always around the corner, according to scientist, who spend 70% of their time applying for money, not researching cancer, or the pharma industry, who in principle seem to have a license to print money, and need to keep sales up, just as they have to keep up their share prices. One failed drug in a stage 3 trial can take out 10 or 30% of share price, even lead to the collapse of a smaller company. This is our system, we choose it via our politics. It is than left to the FAA or the EMA (the two biggest public regulators for drugs, US and Europe) to sort out the mess. The pharma companies do loads of trials, only publish the ones that show their drug is better. A drug gets approved in the US, the Europeans find no signs, whatsoever the 50 000 drug works any better than the 2000 pound drug in use already. In the tabloids we get personal stories of denied treatments, and personal hardship. When the US (FDA) blocks this very same drugs (because it is no better than older drugs) a year or two later, you never read about it, ever.

So can we improve our system for developing cures for cancer, yes we sure can. Why do we not have a cure for cancer? Because it is a very complex group of loosely related diseases. Over all, we (the scientists) are also very bad at communicating with the general public; we are beating more and more cancer types and cases. There are now more women with breast cancer alive than ever, because they did not die, as they would have done 20 years ago. The side effects of the treatments are milder than before and id not cured, many lives are prolonged meaningfully.

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