Friday, September 14, 2012

Stand Up To Cancer

Most of us have seen the Master Card commercial
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By Terry Orr

The Stand Up To Cancer initiative aims to raise awareness and bring about an understanding that everyone is connected by cancer. The stat used most often by SU2C is from the American Cancer Society: one out of every two men and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, meaning everyone is affected in some way, or will be. Another part of the campaign is motivating the public through various forms of media to become involved in the cause of curing cancer.

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Background (from Wikipedia)

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a charitable program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) established by media, entertainment and philanthropic leaders who have been affected by cancer. SU2C aims to raise significant funds for translational cancer research through online and televised efforts. Central to the program is a telethon that was televised by three major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) in over 170 countries on September 5, 2008. SU2C made over $100 million after that evenings broadcast.

The SU2C leadership team includes news anchor Katie Couric; the Entertainment Industry Foundation, represented by Board of Directors Chairperson Sherry Lansing and CEO Lisa Paulsen; Laura Ziskin; the Noreen Fraser Foundation and its executives Noreen Fraser, Woody Fraser, Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz; and nonprofit executive Ellen Ziffren.

The American Association for Cancer Research explains the goal and how the donations are used. For additional information, please visit their website listed below.

What is the goal of Stand Up To Cancer?

Simply put, the goal is to raise money to fund the most promising cancer research projects and unite the best scientists who are on the verge of critical discoveries that can provide direct patient benefit in the shortest time possible.

How will donations to Stand Up To Cancer be used?
  • 70 percent of SU2C donations directly fund the best and brightest investigators from leading institutions across the country and internationally to work in collaborative, multi-disciplinary "Dream Teams." These teams pursue the most promising research, accelerating the discovery of new therapies for cancer patients and/or advancing efforts in cancer prevention research. With sufficient resources to conduct intense, goal-directed, team-oriented approaches to a cancer problem, these teams can be successful. The more funds raised, the more Dream Teams that can be funded.
  • 20 percent of SU2C donations directly fund innovative, high-risk, high-reward innovative cancer research proposals that often are not supported by conventional funding sources, but have the potential to improve the lives of cancer patients. The hope is that ideas for new Dream Teams will emerge from these novel projects.
  • 10 percent of SU2C donations are invested in the SU2C reserve to continue its mission of funding cutting-edge research and bringing effective new treatments to cancer patients in the shortest time possible.

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While conducting my research for this article it occurred to me that with all the money that has been spent on Cancer – ‘What improvements have been made?’  ‘What is the survival rate today’? ‘What benefits are we getting for this work’? And ‘What does the future of Cancer research and cures ahead of us during the next decade?’

This led me to an interesting website Cancer.Net who provides the following information:
Defining survivorship

Surviving cancer or “survivorship” can be defined in different ways. Two common definitions include:
  • Having no disease after the completion of treatment,
  • The process of living with, though, and beyond cancer. By this definition, cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis. It includes people who continue to have treatment to either reduce risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease.

Sometimes, doctors use terms to describe the specific period a survivor is experiencing. These can include:
  • Acute survivorship: describes the time when a person is being diagnosed and/or in treatment for cancer.
  • Extended survivorship: describes the time immediately after treatment is completed
  • Permanent survivorship: describes a longer-term period, often meaning that the passage of time since treatment is measured in years.

Survival statistics

The number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 12 million today. About 68% of people diagnosed with cancer today are expected to live at least five years beyond their diagnosis. And, approximately 15% of all cancer survivors were diagnosed more than 20 years ago. Most cancer survivors today are age 65 or older.

Most cancer survivors were initially diagnosed with common cancers. For example, 22% of survivors had breast cancer, 20% had prostate cancer, 9% had colorectal cancer, and 8% had a gynecologic cancer, such as uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancers.

The increase in survival rates is largely attributed to the following four developments:
  • Improved screening and early detection, such as mammography for breast cancer, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer, the Pap test for cervical cancer, and colonoscopy for colorectal cancer;
  • Improvements in treatment;
  • More effective treatment of side effects, making it possible to give patients higher, more effective doses of cancer drugs;
  • The development of targeted therapies, which are more specific and often less toxic than standard chemotherapy.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures and the National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship.

While Fact Check writes about Cancer Rates and Unjustified Conclusions – states So the survival statistics, while they might be useful for some kinds of comparisons, don’t really present any obvious conclusions when used to compare different populations. They can be interpreted to argue for leaving the U.S. system alone, or for extending coverage to the millions who don’t have it.’

Another factor that skews the statically cancer numbers is cause of death – while my dad had cancer (renal cell, liver, kidney, and brain) none of these were listed as his cause of death.

I will continue to research on the other questions listed above and provide updates as I gather that information.  In the meantime, do what you can to help all those folks working on a cure, providing treatment, those caregivers who give so much assistance where needed, visit friends and or family member with cancer and provide much needed support and read to understand more about these terrible diseases.

Thank you!

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