The numbers mean everything in the cancer war from how a cancer is classified to the amount of funding received. Sarcoma is defined as a ‘rare’ cancer. The U.S. definition means it effects less than 200,000 Americans a year.
Rare cancers are like the red headed step-children when it comes to the cancer dollars. Rare means those fighting this war spend most of our time building awareness. Rare means dollars are hard fought when you are also trying to build name recognition.
I have a question though…..
Why does this feel like a competition? We all agree that cancer sucks, of any kind. It can be a life-threatening illness that has lasting impacts not only on the patient but their families, caregivers, and communities. A cancer diagnosis is also life-changing, and the feelings are common across all cancer types including shock, anger, sadness, and fear.
Despite the commonalities, those with rare cancers sometimes feel like they are all alone. Progress has been made, but it has been slow. Given the lack of awareness and government funding for improved therapies, we are much more dependant on public charities and private funding for research than more common cancers.
However, strictly looking at sarcoma from a numbers perspective ignores its impact both now and on our future. While less common in adults, sarcomas account for 20% of all pediatric cancers.
This isn’t a game when someone is fighting for their life. There must be more balance in how funding is distributed so that less common cancers are not seen as “forgotten.”
Every life matters. Every dollar counts.
Increased funding CAN make a difference. We have seen improvements in early detection, treatment therapies, and mortality rates for more common cancers. What would the sarcoma survival rates be with more funding, especially for those battling soft-tissue sarcoma?
It shouldn’t be this difficult! For us, it is much simpler:
Sarcoma is a cancer. It needs a cure. Period.