FOR PATIENTS, SURVIVORS AND FRIENDS
Elevated Cancer Risk Seen in Certain Holocaust Survivors
A study of 152,622 Holocaust survivors living in Israel found that 22 percent of those granted compensation for suffering persecution during
World War II had a cancer diagnosis, compared with 16 percent of those denied compensation. In the study, compensation served as a
measure of exposure by survivors to factors linked to cancer. In addition, Holocaust survivors born in German-occupied countries had an
8 percent higher risk of developing any cancer compared to survivors born in non-occupied countries. The researchers say the findings are
an example of how prolonged and severe abuse and stress could affect a population’s health.
LEARN MORE IN THE ONLINE FIRS T JULY 10, 2017, CANCER.
Learn how PARP inhibitors and immunotherapy are used to fight cancer by watching
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Science
Illustrated videos. The quick-drawing
illustrator creates memorable images.
Support cancer organizations such as
the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, St. Jude
Children’s Research Hospital and Stand Up
to Cancer by downloading the Charity Miles
app on your phone. Organizations receive up
to 25 cents for each mile you walk or run and
up to 10 cents for each mile you bike.
Scan grocery store items with the Shop Well
app to get the nutritional information you need
to determine which foods should stay on the
shelf and which should get put in your cart. Set
up a dietary profile and you’ll get personalized
recommendations for healthy choices.
research program has provided
exceptional value and benefit to the
American public.” Cancer Today spoke
with Unger about why using the public’s tax dollars to support NCI-funded
research benefits cancer patients.
Q: When the NCI first established its
cooperative groups, what did the clinical trial landscape look like?
A: Well, those were early days, and
most studies were not randomized, like
they are now. In general, methodologies, monitoring and other aspects of
clinical trials had not been worked out.
Over time, the science has been refined.
Q: How do NCI cooperative group clinical trials differ from other clinical trials?
A: The cooperative groups are publicly funded, so they address questions
important to patients. They focus
on research about new treatment
regimens and approaches that may
not be the top priority of the pharmaceutical or biotech industries, which
focus more on new drug development. Also, trials run by these groups
include patients, researchers and
doctors from across the U.S. These
trials enroll large numbers of patients.
It’s not possible to have this size of a
trial at an individual cancer center.
Importantly, these trials include many
patients being treated at community
hospitals, so the findings are more
likely to be representative.
Q: How did you decide which SWOG
trials to use in your study?
A: The 23 trials we included were the
subset of studies for which overall
survival was available for patients
and the experimental treatment had a
positive result for overall survival. We
were very rigorous in our definition of
a positive study.
Q: Your analysis estimates that 3. 34
million life years were gained among
U. S. cancer patients from 1965 through
2015 as a result of these trials. What
does that mean?
A: One way to say it is: If you took
every cancer patient who died in the
U.S. in 2016 [about 600,000 people],
the level of impact shown in the study
would have given each of them 5. 6
years more of life. That’s entirely
hypothetical of course. Some would
have lived longer—some would not
have. But that’s a way to picture it.
Q: Do you think more needs to be done
to make the public aware of how they
are benefiting from tax dollars invested
in NCI-funded research?
A: I think that would be helpful. The
cooperative groups do suffer from lack
of exposure to a certain extent. The
estimated dollar return on investment in
these trials was $125 per life year gained.
For taxpayers, that is pennies on the
dollar, and that money is contributing
positive benefits to cancer patients.
Q: Cancer care expenditures in the U.S.
total about $157 billion per year. Would
spending more money on clinical trials
reduce cancer care expenditures?
A: Yes. The more we spend on research,
the quicker we can do trials, the quicker
we can get new treatments out to patients
and the more lives we will save.
Q: How important are patient volunteers to this research?
A: Critically important. It doesn’t get
said enough, that is for sure. A lot of
patients enter a trial because they are
looking for the best treatment. Some
do it out of altruism. It doesn’t matter
why they take part—they are the true
heroes of cancer research. We couldn’t
do this without them. —SUE ROCHMAN