With health-care reform debates happening across the country these days, I can’t help but think of cancer care as a health-care reform issue in many ways.
Research has led to the development of many new medications to treat different types of cancer. A number of them specifically target an abnormality in the cancer cell and are based on work conducted in basic research laboratories.
Although these new drugs can be expensive, I believe cancer care would become cheaper if we knew right away which tumors would respond to which drugs. That’s a research question.
As cancer outcomes improve, another critical question involves cancer survivorship.What can we do to reduce long-term complications of cancer therapy and maximize the quality of life for cancer patients—both during and after treatment? Reducing the impact of cancer therapy on long-term health also has important implications for health-care costs. That’s also a research question.
If we ever have a “public option” for health care, I believe that including federal funding for clinical research—in a fashion now used for basic research—could reduce costs in the long term. It would be a wise investment.
The Minnesota Masonic Charities have recently made an investment of their own. As you’ve probably heard, last year they pledged $65 million over 15 years to our work. Generous giving from many individuals and organizations (such as the Children’s Cancer Research Fund) allow our research teams to pursue a broad spectrum of projects, including population, laboratory, and clinical research.
We’re so grateful to have their support—and yours. All of you truly make a difference in what we do.
Douglas Yee, M.D.
Director, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
John H. Kersey Chair in Cancer Research