Apr 26

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America vs. Cancer

Quote of the Day:

Do you believe in miracles?…….YES!     –Al Michaels, describing America’s most recent monumental victory in 1980

TB read this blog penned by that girl Marlo Thomas. It gave me a rush of optimism that the conquest of cancer is actually achievable. If that particular terrorist agent frightens you as it does me, you ought to read it. The main thrust of the optimism for the rest of you is that recent advances and new capabilities in DNA sequencing and seeing deeply into the cell itself have allowed doctors to develop drastically more effective treatments based on the individual needs of a patient. One cancer researcher was quoted saying that he wakes up every morning and rushes to work because he knows something great is ready to happen. Another scientist likened cancer treatments just a decade ago as compared to today as equivalent to a mechanic trying to fix a car engine without looking beneath the hood. Finally, doctors can “look under the hood.” What does that mean? In sports terms, we have access to the other side’s game plan. The war on cancer is suddenly very winnable.

It all got me pretty excited and I decided to look at some numbers. Here are the ones I was interested in. Reach your own conclusions.

Annual Federal Funding for cancer research– about 4.9 billion; an additional 1.3 billion was allocated by the Stimulus Act for 2009-2010 only. The NIC has requested 5.8 billion for 2012.  source (note–some other governmental agencies, including the Defense Dept also fund cancer research to a far lesser degree).

Annual cancer research funding by the American Cancer Association (the largest non-governmental funder)– 130 million source

Well known cancer charity, Komen for the Cure has spent 680 million on research funding since 1982. I couldn’t find their single year numbers. source

Lives lost to cancer per year in the United States– 500,000+ (second to heart disease in cause of death in the US) source

Risk of getting cancer–  41.2% of Americans born today will get cancer of some type at some time in their life.  source

9-11 deaths–2,996

Civilian Terrorism deaths since 9-11–difficult to determine from a quick web search, but I feel confident based on the stories I read that the number is well below 10,000 in 11 years. Probably closer to 1000 worldwide.

American military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq– as of September 2011, approximately 6500 dead and 45,000 wounded; that number has increased since then.  source

Annual Military Spending in the US- 711 billion not counting secret spending; China is the second largest defense spender at 143 billion source

Cost to develop F-35 Joint Strike Fighter– 400 billion paid by US taxpayers to Lockheed; estimated cost for 50 year life of the airplanes 1 trillion; cost of the jet’s GE engine wanted by neither the Bush nor Obama administrations nor the Pentagon, but still funded despite Pratt and Whitney making the alternative, preferred engine– 3 billion source source source

Cancer deaths vs Military/Terror Deaths per decade in the US, estimated– 5 million to 5000 (depending on our withdrawal from Afghanistan and not starting another war or being invaded).

Cancer funding per decade vs military spending estimated– 50 Billion to 1 Trillion, 430 Billion*

The numbers are interesting. What if we converted that Lockheed jet money to cancer spending? How many of our lives would be saved? Hell, we could cut half out of the budget to appease the fiscal conservatives, assuming that beast actually exists in government, and still accelerate progress on cancer research. with the other half. Seems like a good investment to me.

It’s something that ought to make everyone happy. We have cancer on the run and maybe with a little more federal research money, we can accelerate the day that we beat it once and for all. I suggest, when the moment arrives, we ask Al Michaels to make the announcement on national tv.


I realize the cancer funding to military spending comparison is not apples to apples, but it IS illustrative.



Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2012/04/america-vs-cancer/

  • smilyj

    Im not sure if anyone else has heard or read this. But there is a treatment this guy (scientist) has developed. It has totally cured all kinds of cancer in test animals. It’s supposedly being intensely researched now. It involves attaching gold leafs or something like that to the cancer cells. They then heat them to degrees that incinerate (spell check) the cancer cells. It’s supposedly the most hopefull treatment they have ever had and is said to totally cure any type of cancer with absolutely no side effects. Sounds amazing. Maybe one of you computer research geniuses can look this up and give us a more detailed report than me. I forget half the shit I read and hear shortly after hearing it. Just seem to remember the main point! But this would give me a little more optimism that they do actually want to cure shit these days. This could be the greatest discovery in the history of man in my opinion.

    April 28 2012
    • Travellinbaen

      I understand the skepticism. It is one of the reasons I was so impressed by the blog and wanted to share it. Here are a couple of facts I should have included in my post to show that we are not only gaining ground theoretically, but statistically:

      Quote 1:
      All of the doctors I spoke to pointed to the increased survival numbers — the holy grail of all medical science statistics — as evidence that we are gaining ground in this fight. “We are saving 350 more people per day in the U.S. than we did in 1991,” Dr. John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, told me.

      Quote 2:
      Certain types of leukemia, lung cancer, melanoma and sarcoma that were uniformly fatal just a few years ago are now treated routinely by swallowing a couple of pills each day — just like blood pressure medication — without the side effects of chemotherapy.

      Quote 3:
      We have seen more than 15 years of decline in the cancer death rates in the U.S. Thanks to the progress we’re making against the disease, we have helped prevent more than 1 million cancer deaths since death rates started dropping in the early 1990s.
      I don’t mean to suggest cancer will be cured right way, I don’t know if it ever will. And for those suffering, it all probably sounds like pie in the sky. But it does give one a sense of hope to read the words of some heavy hitters in the world of science.

      Ya’ll don’t want to hear about the life longevity pill they are working on do you????

      April 26 2012
      • Mac

        Also let me say that as a half assed writer wannabe, I realise how much work went into this piece TB. My hats off to you.

        April 26 2012
        • Mac

          I used to pshaw anything even remotely coming close to a black helicopter theory. As I have gotten older, I have either gotten wiser or dementia is starting to kick in because I find it entirely plausible that they wouldn’t want to cure it. Purely based on the economics.

          April 26 2012
          • Travellinbaen

            Stephen, thanks for your thoughtful comments and here’s to you for your hard won first hand knowledge on the subject.

            Not to ignore your other points, but I have particularly wondered a lot about the overpopulation issue from the medical research pov and several others.

            April 26 2012
            • Stephen Coleman

              As a two time cancer survivor that has seen the entire medical field has to offer in treatment. I don’t believe they will ever cure any cancer. While going thru chemo I talked to several other patients on this exact subject. There are people that take treatments daily, weekly, monthly and even quarterly. Only about a 1/3 of us have the go thru the bad treatments the other 2/3 out there never really have any more than an inconvenience to normal routine. So if 2/3 of your patients are able to maintain a semi normal life why cure it. There are two main reasons why in my opinion 1) pure economics billions in research and treatment. Research scientist still pissed they cured Polio. 2) It helps with population control worldwide. That may be morbid but think about it if all those that die worldwide every year lived another 10 more years. TB has made a very good comparison on Cancer and Defense. Most of the money goes to research with little expectation of success.

              April 26 2012

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