The Sydney Morning Herald

Biggest cancer killers lack adequate research

Author: Katherine Fleming. The West Australian
Date: 18/04/2011
Words: 294
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News and Features
Page: 5
THERE are serious gaps in research to tackle Australia's most deadly cancers, according to a study which found the number of clinical trials was disproportionately low for the biggest killers, lung and colorectal cancer, and high for breast cancer, lymphoma and leukaemia.

Lung cancer had 24 trials and bowel cancer only 21, despite being ranked one and two for the biggest burden of disease, a University of Sydney analysis of data from the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry has found.

Breast cancer, ranked third for years of healthy life lost, had the most research at 62 trials, while lymphoma and leukaemia, ranked six and eight, each had 31 trials registered.

Dr Rachel Dear, lead author of the study, published in The Medical Journal of Australia yesterday, said the gaps were "significant and concerning" and highlighted the need for targeting of funding for neglected cancers, including pancreas and prostate cancer, also in the top five for burden of disease. The analysis also showed relatively few trials were done for non-drug therapies, such as surgery and lifestyle interventions.

Dr Dear suggested an independent body could be set up to oversee the research agenda.

"We need to learn from the breast cancer area because it has done a fantastic job in gathering support," Dr Dear said. "In breast cancer, our study showed there are a lot of non-drug trials being funded and that is probably a result of consumer influence.

"While breast cancer causes a significant burden of disease, [the research] needs to be balanced by attention to other cancers.

"For example, lung cancer is a terrible cancer, with very poor survival rates, so the fact it is relatively under-researched is significant and concerning."

Dr Dear said many under-researched cancers were complicated, which made developing treatments difficult.

 
 
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