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Cancer Research Moves Forward

Thu, 06/17/2010 - 8:59am

Vital Signs, Spring 2010, Cancer ResearchWelcome to the second edition of Vital Signs, a digital publication developed by the editors of Bioscience Technology and Drug Discovery & Development. The positive feedback from readers upon publication of the first issue on infectious disease has inspired us to produce this issue devoted to cancer research.

Read the Spring 2010 edition of Vital Signs, a digital magazine focusing on cancer research.

There are few people who—either personally or through close friends or relatives—have not been touched by the dreaded “C-word.” That puts a lot of pressure on scientists in academia, government labs, and industry to achieve success in their research efforts.

A study slated for publication in Cancer, a medical journal of the American Cancer Society, reported that the cost of treating cancer in the United States nearly doubled over the past two decades. Cancer treatment costs rose from nearly $25 billion in 1987 to more than $48 billion by the end of 2005 based on 2007 dollars.

The increase is not driven by expensive cancer drugs, but the increase in the number of cancer patients—and that patients are living longer with cancer. As expected with an aging population, older Americans tend to get cancer at higher rates. But better treatments are increasing survival rates, resulting in more money spent on treatments.

So, how are we doing in the battle against cancer? The National Cancer Institute reports that while survival rates for most common cancers are improving, the mortality rates for cancer of the liver and intrahepatic bile duct, pancreas, and esophagus are rising.

For colorectal cancer, death rates among women fell from 1975 to 2006. Among men, rates fell from 1984 to 2006. After rising from 1975 to 1990, female breast cancer death rates have fallen ever since. Death rates from lung cancer among men rose from 1975 to 1990 and fell from 1993 to 2006. Death rates among women rose from 1975 to 2003 and fell from 2003 to 2006. And, after increasing from 1975 to 1991, prostate cancer death rates fell from 1994 to 2006.

So, while the last few decades have been witness to progress, many challenges remain. The cover story of this edition of Vital Signs explains how new research and new tools in cancer epigenetics may change the way cancer is diagnosed and treated. The application note, “Flow Cytometric Analysis of Apoptosis,” discusses common flow cytometric techniques, including experimental design issues.

The issue also features recent research developments, imaging tools used in cancer applications, and new products for research labs.

While at the recent American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) convention, I was impressed with the conviction and compassion demonstrated by researchers and industry vendors who were sincere in their dedication to finding better diagnostics, treatments, or cures.

We hope this issue of Vital Signs provides scientists with insight, advice, or ideas to assist their research efforts and commitment to fighting cancer and other diseases.

Rita Peters, Editorial Director, Drug Discovery & Development
Robert Fee, Editor in Chief, Bioscience Technology
Peter Bennett, Associate Editor, Drug Discovery & Development

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