Our 2002 Strategic Analysis identified that lung cancer was receiving much less research funding than other cancers, relative to both incidence and mortality. In 2005, less than 4% of research spend on specific tumour types by NCRI partners was on lung cancer, despite it being responsible for 22% of cancer deaths. NCRI’s 2006 report on lung cancer laid out reasons why lung cancer was falling behind and suggested a number of ways to tackle the issues.
Supportive and palliative care
In 2007/2008 the needs of lung cancer patients for supportive care were targeted with a call for proposals for studies on symptom management with a focus on improving the patient experience and studies targeted to assessing the effectiveness of different service models for patients in follow-up. Marie Curie Cancer Care managed the call and selection process and administers the Lung Cancer SuPaC awards on behalf of the funding partners. Funds of £2.25m were pledged by Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK, Department of Health (England), the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland R&D Office . In June 2008 nine studies were awarded funding.
In May 2005, it was agreed that there were circumstances in which screening for lung cancer could be cost-effective and that further research is required to help inform health policy in this area. In 2008 the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme funded a feasibility study. The feasibility study was successful and a follow on pilot study will start shortly.
Investment in lung cancer research
Since the publication of the 2006 report there has been a steady increase in the amount NCRI partners have spent on lung cancer research. In 2010 lung cancer attracted 5.5% of funding spent on research into specific types of cancer (£11.8m / £213m), an increase from 3.9% (£6.1m / £158m) in 2006. This 93% increase in spend far outstrips the increase in cancer research spend of the NCRI partnership as a whole over the same time period (28%). Data on cancer research funding by NCRI partners has been collected for 9 consecutive years from 2002 to 2010, and compiled into a data package.
In November 2010, NCRI published a review of research in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. This review was requested by the Department of Health, England, and supported by the British Lung Foundation. The report describes the current position of mesothelioma research, and considers opportunities, priorities and potential barriers in relation to future research, aiming to stimulate ideas and enthusiasm in this field.
Funding totalling £3m over 3 years have been donated by the insurance industry to the British Lung Foundation for research into asbestos related disease. The first round of calls for proposals is now closed; a second call is expected during 2011/12. Other research funders have confirmed that they are willing to fund high quality research in this area through existing funding streams.
For more information or to get involved in any of these actions, email us.