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Only 5 percent of cancer research funds are spent on metastases, yet it kills 90 percent of all cancer patients
Date:6/1/2010

e problem and what proportion of funding for cancer research ends up focused on metastases? I have found it hard to obtain reliable figures, but although there is considerable variation between European countries, I estimate that the average spent on metastasis research is around 5% of total cancer research funding. Given that metastasis is of central importance to the prognosis and outcome of cancer patients, we could argue that in many countries more funding should be directed toward metastasis research."

Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells split off from the original, primary tumour and travel to other parts of the body via the blood or lymph systems. This leads to the growth of secondary tumours in places such as the bones, brain, lungs and liver, and it is usually these that end up killing the patient.

"Metastatic disease, therefore, represents a major public health problem, affecting cancer patients and their families, as well as health care systems and the broader economy. Despite this, progress in developing treatments for metastatic disease remains slow," write Prof Sleeman and the second guest editor, Professor Patricia Steeg (chief of the Women's Cancers Section, Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, USA) in their editorial.

In addition to adequate funding, they call for:

  • effective translational research for metastatic disease, which will take discoveries made in the laboratory quickly into new and better treatments for cancer patients;
  • clinical trials to be designed so that they include information on metastases;
  • clinicians and scientists to work more closely together to design clinical trials that assess the development of new metastases.

"In summary, combating metastasis formation and growth is the key to successfully treating cancer," they conclude. "Traditional growth control approaches are inadequate and can even be detrimental in the
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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