Reuters (via Yahoo! News) has a story about the double whammy of a lung cancer diagnosis. (See Lung cancer patients fight stigma.)
“I’m sorry. You don’t have breast cancer,” the oncologist told Charmaine Atkenson.
The 48-year-old mother of two had something far worse — . It had spread to her spine, bursting the bone open. It was not only a sentence of death; it was a judgment.
Even though Atkenson never smoked, she felt almost ashamed. “I found that I never would even say what kind of cancer I had. Or I would always start by saying I never smoked and I never lived with a smoker,” she said in a telephone interview.
The article goes on to explain that funding for lung cancer research is much lower per patient than for breast cancer or prostate cancer, two of the top-funded variants.
This is not exactly a new story. I wrote about a very similar article three years ago. (See Research funding levels are only part of the story.) Yet it seems the advocates are still on the case as well they should be.
It’s an interesting question of equity: How should research dollars be doled out? I wouldn’t mind seeing a system that laid out a set of parameters and weights to determine funding. Certainly dollars per patient would be a metric, but there would be others, too. For example, disease severity, ability to efficiently use research dollars, economic impact of the disease, and yes, possibly even impact of lifestyle in getting the disease should be considered. I suggested in my earlier post that the lung cancer people should follow the example of the Myelin Repair Foundation in encouraging efficient use of resources and rapid progress. I still believe that.May 30, 2008