the ignored cancers

When I opened The Sun Herald to have my usual Sunday read, I found an article called “Denial worsens danger of cancer“. It said, in part:

Cancer survival rates have increased across NSW, a new report shows, but an attitude of denial about the symptoms is still causing many people to die unnecessarily.

The Cancer Institute NSW report, Cancer Survival in NSW 2002-06, to be released today, has found that patients diagnosed with cancer now have a 64.4 per cent chance of beating the disease over five years.

Just 30 years ago, cancer patients had less than a 50-50 chance of survival after five years.

Survival rates for men have shown a significant improvement – 63 per cent compared with 61 per cent in 1999-2003. The numbers for women, meanwhile, have remained steady at 66 per cent.

Survival rates over five years for some cancers are more than 90 per cent, including cancer of the testes, thyroid, lip and melanoma.

The institute’s chief executive, David Currow, said the five-year survival rates were encouraging, but those who ignored symptoms were putting their lives at risk because early detection was important.

While early detection is a must, that’s not what caught my eye. It was the graph accompanying the article. It contained the “five-year survival rate for people 15 years and older in NSW, 2002-2006″.

This is an encouraging but also startling graph. It is fantastic that Prostate, Breast, Melanoma and Thyroid cancers all have an over 80% survival rate after five years. It really is. But what worries me is that Lung and Liver cancer (which can in some cases be preventable) have only a 16% survival rate. That worries me.

What worries me most is the lack of funding surrounding these cancers. According to the statistics found on The Cancer Institute NSW, in 2007, 2,604 people died of Lung Cancer. The next highest mortality rate was 1,720 for Bowel Cancer.

Bowel Cancer has a survival rate of around 60% after five years and while that is much better than Lung Cancer, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Currently, Breast Cancer research gets more monetary donations than any other cancer (with the exception of The Cancer Council which doesn’t just focus on one). Ok, I can’t actually prove that, but I would hazard a guess that I am right. Why? Because there are Breast Cancer DVDs, spices, ice cream makers, cookbooks, paper, skincare range (created by Dove), cosmetics (Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Aveda, Estee Lauder), GHDs, pancake mix, pyjamas, water and so much more. I think it is fantastic there is so much exposure for a cancer that affects one in nine women. But I think this should be widespread and shouldn’t just be confined to breast cancer.

There will never be a ‘good kind’ of cancer. There will never be ‘too much funding’ for any kind of cancer, we should provide funding and research as much as humanly possible if we’re going to have a shot of ever finding a cure for cancer.

I want there to be more funding and awareness surrounding all cancers, including Prostate, Bowel, Liver and Lung cancers as well as blood cancers (Leukaemia, Hodgkins Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkins Lymphona, Myeloma), brain, stomach and kidney cancers and male and female reproductive organ cancers. As T said to me when I was talking to her about this “Breasts are more marketable than brains or men’s bottoms”.

Chances are that people donate to the medical research of conditions that have affected themselves, their family or their friends. And that’s fine, I totally get that. But if you’re looking at donating a bit of extra money, why not look into lung cancer research (The Australian Lung FoundationiCanQuit), bowel cancer research (Bowel Cancer Australia), brain cancer research (National Brain Tumour Society), leukaemia and lymphoma research (Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma GroupLymphoma Research Foundation,Leukaemia Foundation), pancreatic cancer research (Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative) and prostate cancer research (Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia). Or just donate to The Cancer Council.

All cancers can be deadly, and they all need a cure.

What do you give money to? Do you think Breast Cancer rightly or wrongly gets more funding? 

Picture Picture

This post was originally published on KiKi & Tea

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