Based at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida, Cancer Ecology is a small research group led by David Basanta. We are mathematical modellers who work with biologists and clinicians, trying to understand the ecology of tumors and the evolutionary dynamics of cancer progression and resistance to treatment.

Years lost to cancer

Years lost to cancer

 Samir Soneji, PhD, one of the authors of the study used by the Washington Post

Samir Soneji, PhD, one of the authors of the study used by the Washington Post

The Washington Post has an amazing graphical department and the daily charts are always worth a look. In this case they have compared the amount of money that the NCI invests in a given type of cancer in relation to the number of years of life lost. The idea is that those cancers that kill a lot of young people will be more costly than those that happen rarely, are treatable or affect mostly elderly patients. It's clear from the graph that cancer affects people of all ages but young people are still less likely to be directly affected by it than older ones. Thus testicular cancer impacts mostly young people. But it happens so rarely and kills so (relatively) few people that it is clear why the NCI does not spend a much of their budget researching it.

Still, the plots suggest that the way that the NCI allocates its budget is not optimal if the aim is to minimise years of life lost. Lung cancer is, by and large, the worst type of cancer but it does not receive as much NCI funding as breast cancer (the type of cancer whose research is most generously funded). Maybe it is high time the NCI revisits the way they allocate research money?

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/the-years-lost-to-cancer/814/

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