Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Balancing privacy of individuals against opportunities to increase awareness of Cancer

There has been a lot in the news recently about Steve Jobs fight with Pancreatic cancer. The impact on Apple has been discussed at length (BBC apple coverage, Reuters, BBC, CNN, Apple, GenomeWeb), as has the possible impact on Steve Jobs himself. I guess this is just one of the problems of being a VIP, celebrity, etc.

I do struggle a little however with the fact that this is one person amongst about 280,000 worldwide who get cancer of the Pancreas. It is a horrible disease and only about 16% of people live for more than one year after diagnosis. Research on Pancreatic Cancer is being done and we are learning more about the disease and why it might be so difficult to treat. Science recently published a paper from Professor David Tuvesons group here at CRI demonstrating how Pancreatic cancers are hypovascular and that increasing that vascalature can allow more effective treatment in mice.

Other celebrities have had cancer of course. There was a lot of news coverage when Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. At the time CRUK reported that the public undestanding of Breast Cancer was quite wrong, with most people thinking that the disease is more likely to affect people under 70. they termed this "the Kylie effect".

If Mr Jobs news worthiness as a pancreatic cancer patient increases public awareness, focuses more researchers on this cancer and results in more research £, $ or € being spent then we can hope for more advances and better treatment for all.

I cant help but think that headlines like GenomeWebs "See you later, Steve Jobs" are not the right thing to be writing about anyone with Cancer though.

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