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Financial Support for Cancer Research

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Introduction

No ethnic race or gender is free from cancer. Cancer may occur in all ethnic races, in a man or a woman, whatever his or her age might be. With the present technology, it is still difficult to cure cancer in its late stages, but there are now cancers that are curable, especially when detected early (MedicineWorld.org).

With the hope of providing cure for all types of cancer, scientists and medical researchers have been conducting studies and researches to understand the human structure and to devise ways by which to treat a cancer patient. To pursue the research regarding the cure of cancer, however, requires financial support. Scientists, researchers, and laboratories must be supported with funds in order to have and develop the necessary technologies that would cure, or help in finding a way to cure, cancer.

There are those who argue that the government has to provide federal funding to cancer research. This is because it is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens, and one way of protecting them is through providing the best possible health care system there could ever be. This essay argues that though the cancer research has been receiving federal funds, these funds are not enough to support research. More funds should be provided to cancer research, especially to those researches regarding cancers that are unfamiliar to the public.   

What is Cancer?

Every organism is made up of cells. These cells are the building blocks of life. Cells divide in order to produce daughter cells, which are then required for replacing the cells that were lost throughout time. Sometimes, during the process of cell division, a cell may have some genetic mutation that would eventually alter the cell division. This abnormal and uncontrolled cell division and growth would lead to cancer (MedicineWorld.org).

There are different types of cancer. There are over 100 types of this kind of disease and they vary in their ability to spread and to grow. Some of the most common types of cancer are breast cancer, colon-rectum cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, oral cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer (New Standard Encyclopedia).

The Need for Funding

In the United States, cancer is said to be declining. However, this decline is concentrated only to those cancers that have more research funding. Meanwhile, other types of cancer are receiving less publicity and funding. According to CBS News, there is a great disparity as to the funds allocated to different types of cancer. The types of cancer that receive greater financial support are cervical cancer, breast cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma. On the other hand, stomach cancer, lung cancer, and esophageal cancer receive less federal funding. A reason for this great disparity is the fact that certain advocacy groups, particularly those of breast cancer and cervical cancer, are more adept in their awareness campaigns. And it could be said that an increase in awareness implies an increase in financial support (LaPook).

The federal funding for the childhood cancer clinical research has also been declining. It must be noted that budget cuts may produce negative results to children with cancer. As a result of the budget cuts, the COG or Children's Oncology Group was forced to put certain studies on hold. The present knowledge on curing cancer is primarily due to researches. About forty years ago, the cure rates for those children with cancer were only lower than 10%. Because of the advancement of cancer research, 78% of childhood cancer patients are now cured (Curesearch.org). The decreasing financial support to research groups posts serious danger that the promise of cure will not take place.

Because support from the government has been declining, some research groups are simply relying on financial aid from the private sector. Even though many are willing to help, the lack of support from the government brings uncertainty as to the duration of the research. Private institutions may stop giving financial support to research groups anytime they deem necessary, thereby creating the possibility that the researches would be paralyzed due to lack of funds. Financial support from the government is, therefore, needed. It is only through this that we can be sure that cancer research will not cease due to financial problem.

There are indeed groups petitioning for support from the government. The Prostate Cancer Petition, for example, petitions the President of the United State of America to make prostate cancer a national priority. According to the advocates of the petition, even though prostate cancer incidence rates are quite comparable to that of breast cancer, the federal funding of the same is significantly lower than the latter. They further argue that the scientists must be encouraged to develop research of this kind of cancer. This could be done by giving the prostate cancer research adequate funding similar to that of breast cancer research. As of April 25, 2010, there are already 16,446 signatories to the petition (Prostate Cancer Petition.org).

The Need for More Funding

In 2007, certain cancer specialists petition the U.S. government for greater federal investment in research. They argue that the budget freeze has been slowing their work. The part of the National Institutes of Health that funds the cancer research had turned down research proposals, and cut the research grants (Allen).

The funding of National Cancer Institute has also been cut during Bush administration. The budget cuts on institutions devoted to cancer research are detrimental to progress. With budget cuts, medical researchers find it hard to perform their jobs. Richard Goldberg, M.D. said that the National Cancer Institute directed him to cut the number of patients that are being studied. This, he said, would produce tremendous impact on the patients and to the cancer research as well. Another problem that Goldberg noted was that the great minds who had just obtained their doctoral degrees would not pursue a career on a research whose funding is scarce (Goldberg). More funds from the government would definitely help the cancer research, the researchers, the cancer patients, and the community.

It must be remembered that when former US President Nixon launched "war on cancer" with financial support, there was a great progress in the fight against cancer. However, cancer still remains the second largest killer disease in the United States. The federal funding of cancer research in the US had suffered during the time of Bush. President Obama now declared that his administration will make efforts to seek a cure for cancer. Obama's administration provides additional funding to the National Institutes of Health that funds medical researches. About $1.26 billion of the additional funds will go to cancer research (Dunham).

President Obama had already made the promise to double the federal funding for cancer research during his presidential campaign. It must be remebrered that his mother and grandmother died of cancer. Still, there are others claiming that the additional funding might have provided an increase, but the additional increase that was provided is not revolutionary. It was reported that to achieve the goal of doubling research funding, there is a need to get up to $11 billion. Obama's plan only included over $6 billion within the NIH or National Institutes of Health (Farley). Clearly then, even the superpower country such as the United States needs to provide additional financial support for cancer research.

To achieve more funding, institutions have been seeking help from other various institutions. Some still petition the government to provide additional funds. It is also important to take into consideration the types of cancer that are given less attention. These types of disease might be unfamiliar to many, but they could probably be silent killers. The government must be able to provide solution to the perceived disparity in the funds that are allocated to different types of cancer.

If what we want is cure from cancer, this disease must be studied first. The experts have to understand how this disease works in killing the human body so that they may be able to find a way to combat this deadly disease. With proper understanding of cancer, we will also be able to prevent the same from occurring. However, understanding cancer is possible only through research. We need well-supported researches and well-compensated scientific experts. These things will not be possible without the adequate funding. Cancer research needs more financial support for it to achieve progress.

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