More than 500,000 people in the United States (U.S.) suffer from bladder cancer, and nearly 70,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the U.S. and the most expensive cancer to treat. The standard of care for bladder cancer has remained unchanged for more than two decades, and therefore treatment options are very limited.
The dearth of federal funding for bladder cancer is arguably the field’s biggest limitation. Federal funding for bladder cancer is less than 1 percent of care costs and is woefully disproportionate to disease prevalence. The reduction in funding affects nearly every aspect of research, from the ability to attract and retain new talent to the ability to run innovative clinical trials—all of which the bladder cancer field so desperately needs.
Bladder cancer also lacks public awareness and charitable support, with only three nongovernmental organizations worldwide providing more than $500,000 in research grants per year. Federal funding for bladder cancer is disproportionate to its prevalence and cost of care. Considering the immense burden of the disease on patients, caregivers, and society, bladder cancer research is grossly underfunded.
The American Cancer Association, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, and Cancer Research UK are the only key stakeholders currently funding bladder cancer research. Organizations that support one specific research center or that dedicate less than $500,000 toward bladder cancer research per year are excluded.
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Private giving can also transform the ineffective clinical trial infrastructure that plagues the bladder cancer field. An infusion of funds to support creation of a coordinated clinical trial network would allow for innovative, adaptive trials.
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