Investments in survivorship, palliative and end-of-life care research

New report identifies opportunities for research on experiences and needs of cancer patients

Investment in research on survivorship and palliative and end-of-life care 2005-2008 - report coverUnderstanding the cancer research landscape, including the gaps and opportunities is key to optimizing research investments to ensure that discoveries benefit patients as quickly as possible. A new report from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA), Investment in research on survivorship and palliative and end-of-life care 2005-2008, documents for the first time the country’s investments in cancer research focused on survivorship and palliative and end-of-life care.

The report indicates that between 2005 and 2008 survivorship and palliative and end-of-life research received 4.6% of the overall investment in cancer research across the country, approximately $18.5 million a year. Almost half of the investment in survivorship research was devoted to the late or long term effects of the disease and its treatment. Overall, about 55% of survivorship studies focused on specific cancers. In palliative and end-of-life research, much of the work involved health-care delivery for cancer patients or studies or the physiological effects of cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a survivor is someone who continues to function during and after overcoming a serious hardship or life-threatening disease. Palliative care is a unique type of care devoted to helping patients and families by preventing or relieving the physical, psychosocial and spiritual suffering that are caused by a life-threatening illness. Part of palliative care, end-of-life care usually refers to the point where the patient’s condition may be progressively and rapidly declining.

Dr. Margaret Fitch, the chair of the Partnership’s Cancer Journey Advisory Group and an active researcher in survivorship, palliative and end-of-life-care, welcomed the publication of this report on the analysis and quantitative evaluation of research in Canada.

“This report is a first-of-its kind and I’m delighted to see that we now have this evidence at our fingertips,” she said. “Until now survivorship, palliative and end-of-life care have been areas that have not been explored in this level of detail. This new information will allow us to work together to prioritize and optimize investments to better address the needs of patients, care givers and survivors.”

Darren Dick, a cancer survivor who brings the patient and survivor perspective to the work of the CCRA, welcomes the in-depth analysis.

“I’ve seen huge advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment since being diagnosed with cancer more than 23 years ago,” he notes. “However, as more than half of Canadians are expected to be faced with a cancer diagnosis it is essential that we continue to focus on research that examines the growing needs of patients and their families after active treatment, the overall psychological impact of surviving cancer, and the needs of patients receiving palliative and end-of-life care.”

Investment in Research on Survivorship and Palliative and End-of-Life Care 2005-2008 is a special section of Cancer research investment in Canada, 2008, a report produced annually by the CCRA, which also serves as the Partnership’s Research Advisory Group. A coordinated pan-Canadian voice for cancer research, the CCRA used information from a database that includes many key organizations in Canada that invest in cancer research to report its findings. The report provides detailed tables and figures on various aspects of Canada’s investment in this important field.