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New therapies for common cancers not being independently researched

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Non-profit research funding is not being allocated to the research of these cancers – and it could be because some consider the cancers are ’embarrassing’ or have been stigmatized.

Only breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and children’s cancers are getting independent funding, say researchers at Northwestern University.

The ‘forgotten’ cancers include colon, endometrial, liver and bile duct, cervical, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers, and these are because they are embarrassing or have been stigmatized. “Shame and discomfort with talking about our bowels and ‘private parts’ may be reducing funding for diseases like colon or endometrial cancers,” said Suncel Kamath, one of the researchers.

His team researched 119 major nonprofit organizations that between them made $5.98bn in contributions to cancer research – but the money wasn’t reaching research for these forgotten cancers, even though they were often the deadliest and most common.

Independent research is vital because it can look at alternative therapies to chemotherapy. Most medical research is paid for by the drug company whose drug is being tested, and so innovative therapies aren’t being tested for their effectiveness – and without research validation, they aren’t being accepted into mainstream treatment.

(Source: Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 2019; 17: 849)

Article Topics: Cancer
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