Is the Government Spending Enough to Fight Cancer?

On the news that cancer deaths are down for the second straight year, the Bush administration is touting its role in increasing the cancer research budget through a fact sheet issued by the White House today.

According to the statement, federal funding to fight cancer has been on the rise.

In particular, the administration says that since 2001, federal cancer funding has increased 24 percent for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 26 percent for the National Institutes of Health, and that the administration invested more than $5 billion in cancer research last year.

Cancer researchers tell a different story, though.

"I am a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, and deeply involved in these budget debates. While no final budget is available for 2007, it is likely that there will be no increase. The budget will be flat. The key effects are on funding of grants. The pay line for grants will be at an all-time historic low of 10 percent of grants submitted."

-- Dr. Bruce Chabner, clinical director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

"To be short and sweet, the pay line for NIH funding is going further down, and the grants that are getting funded are being cut drastically. There simply is not enough money going towards research at a time when progress is so likely. It is a real tragedy, and academic centers must find alternate ways to fund research, and they are not easy to find."

-- Dr. Len Zwelling, vice president for research administration at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center