Cancer Funding Debate...

Reading through the blogs, I noticed that the entries have been dominated by football news, chart entries and random spells of intellectual reckoning [all of which coming from the boys!] so this is one from the girls, but an open debate for all. This blog leads on from the point raised today regarding the funding going into various types of cancer...

 

After looking at a few websites, the following table of statistics gave me a base on which to debate the amounts being given to various types of the disease and whether or not these variations in funding are fair?

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/cancer-funding-does-it-add-up/

The table is from an American study, although i still think that this is useful as it can reflects how funding is approached in other countries as well as our own. As we can see, lung cancer receives the least funding and yet kills the most. Who decides how official funding is distributed and are they right to choose one form of cancer over another? Does it come from personal experience or does it grow from preconcieved notions that people with certain cancers either deserved or 'asked for it'? Also, how are people who fund the causes privately influenced? What have they seen or heard that has made them feel more drawn to a particular kind of cancer over another?

All of these are questions will no doubt spark personal ideas and beliefs of your own, but from a personal point of view...all cancer is a terrible thing to be threatened with, no matter how undeveloped or how tragic. Whatever kind of cancer hits home to you the most, you are likely to feel negative emotions rather than positive ones, so why is such a terrible experience further dampened by the thought of knowing that there is someone with more support than you, there is someone that has decided that you are not as important as someone with breast cancer [this receives the most funding]?

With such dark times in both the past and future of cancer patients, why does the light of hope shine more brightly for some rather than others? A common view is that people with lung cancer 'deserved it' because they smoked or still do. According to cancer research uk, around 90% of lung cancer cases are a result of smoking; however, what about those who smoked, realised the danger and quit? Do they still have to be punished for their past decisions, decisions which they sort to change for their own benefit? I think not, and who has the right to punish those who do still smoke? Is smoking illegal? No, it is not. Therefore, as smokers are not breaking the law and are in no way lower than those who do not smoke, why are they given less funding due to this idea that they are? Frequently, we hear of criminals gaining greater rights than which the majority of the British population would allow, so why do those who obey the law have to suffer greater consequences than those who break it?

I feel that some of you may be falling asleep at my constant blast of rhetorical questions so i will punish you no more. I just thought it would make a change from the plagarism of Sky sports news updates, anyway, have a good evening.

Comments

For some weird reason, I believe that the powers that drive and guide such potential market dominating industries (sorry to frase it so brutally), is not dislike or prejudice towards people categorized under certain cancers. It is probably still related to the expectations of how such investment (doubt, that major investors - not donators, are not interested in receiving that fat cheque for their risk).

In some twisted way, there's logic behind it. Women with breast cancer are generally (dont have any facts to support this claim - havent done any research, just my opinion) mid-aged women. This, typically, means they have families, houses, cars, investments, pensions - a potentially big market with a reasonable buying capability.

In comparison, smokers now are youngsters, students, 20s-30s or a tiny minority of wealthy, cigar-puffing zombies (no offense meant against elders here, just a possible perspective for investors).

Just throwing this idea out there.

By jaakpardi

Good for you for breaking the sports/fast cars axis. Picking up ideas from overseas newspapers and applying them to this country can often be a good source of feature material. And if a 'Big Picture' question like this one - how is cancer funding allocated? - has occurred to you, chances are it's occurred to other people too. It's the "would I read that?" test.

So the next question as a journalist would be: where would I go for authoritative information if I was writing a 1500 word feature, say, for the Daily Mail's health section? Or a 150-word boxout for the BBC web site? 

In this case it'd probably be worth starting with the National Cancer Research Institute, which collates information on funding from government, charities and pharmaceutical industries.

And with a beautiful sense of timing, it published its latest stats covering 2002 to 2006 yesterday. So you'd have topicality on your side as well - the all-important news hook that most (good) feature editors look for.

Then of couse there's Cancer Research, the biggest cancer charity. On their site Jaak would quickly been able to bolster the authority of his comment with the fact that  8 out of 10 breast cancer sufferers are over 50.

Also worth a look would be NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which makes decisions on what treatments are appropriate (and, crucially, affordable) for the NHS.

Those 3 sources would lead you off in different directions, but you'd be well on your way to a half-decent feature pitch...

By Ian Reeves --

Ian Reeves is deputy head of the Centre for Journalism

Ian's advice about reliable sources of statistical data is excellent (of course). To add a cherry to the icing I would also seek an interview or three with cancer specialists in large teaching hospitals. Are they reluctant to propose research into 'unpopular' cancers? Do they fear, for example, that they will be stigmatized as supporters of the tobacco industry if they do? I have written several articles on the subject of underfunding of lung cancer research  - as well as smoking heavily for 25 years. On each occasion I was depressed to discover reluctance to pursue potentially valuable research. The subject also raises the vexed issue of unattributed evidence. After many calls I was able to find consultants who would talk about the subject, but only when I promised not to identify them or the institution at which they worked. BTW - excellent piece Kelsey. This is exactly the type of thinking conference is supposed to encourage.        

By TimLuckhurst

Good article Kelsey. Much better than my constant football and chart entry spews haha. Anyway, I agree people should be given more funding regarding lung cancer and that I hate personally people who slag off those who have done something negative in the past but have changed their lives positively and still get punished for it. So to be honest, your rhetoric was good, as you asked some thoughtful questions and kept us all more awake than my ramblings about people in shorts and singers with stupid hairdos!

 Nice one! :)

By stuartwilson