Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cancer Survivorship Studies Are Not Created Equal

When I was at the ASCO meeting in June I attended a few survivorship presentations. I was happy to see these studies were being done especially in the area of side-effects and survivorship plans. I did wonder though why it seemed the few that I attended all talked about survivorship studies for breast cancer survivors. Cancer survivorship research is a relatively new research area and there are a large number of breast cancer survivors, so it did make sense to me that breast cancer was the first to be studied.

In 2008 there were only 177,578 women alive with a history of ovarian cancer ( diagnosed, in active treatment or cured(?) of the disease. While there were 2,632,005 breast cancer survivors. (Data is from the NCI SEER website. )

Just the other day I ran across a news article on the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) website titled "Some cancers under-represented in survivorship research, study finds ". Guess what The Ohio State University study found ? Forty percent of the survivorship studies are with breast cancer survivors who make up 22 percent of all survivors. On the other hand, only 5 % of the studies are with prostate survivors who make up 20 percent of the survivor population. My initial observation in June seems to have been proven by this study.

The report printed in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention journal also mentioned that gynecologic cancers are also in the under-represented group. I don't have access to the entire article so I can't give you the exact numbers.

So not only do ovarian cancer survivors need to advocate for more research dollars to find a screening test and better treatments but we also need to advocate for more money to study our survivorship issues. We have our work cut out for us!

Every Day is a Blessing