After all this work, dog cancer is still often incurable.
In this second post on the topic, I would like to look at the flow of information. We need to look at where data is generated. And, as usual, recall the flow of the dollar.
Generally, cancer research is the source of the information we have about cancer. There are many different kinds of studies when talking about cancer research. Once basic science is gathered through research, clinical problem solving is gauged with clinical studies. Clinical studies have focused on chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
A couple of points here. First, basic research is quite powerful at answering building block questions. The downside is that quantum leaps may not be gained with the smaller steps that basic research lasers in on.
Second, we have a western bias in our scientific method that observational studies (correlations) are poor at generating real information. We always want our “gold standard” of double blind, placebo-controlled studies.
I do not agree with the privileged status of this gold standard. It is only one way to gain insight.
Funny, who has really been able to disprove that there was not a confounding factor causing the death of gunshot victims beyond the ballistic trauma? How about the confounding variable of time? In spite of this, most would be quite nervous looking down the barrel of a firearm. We all agree that gunshots can be life-threatening.
A strong correlation is common knowledge, without the need for any “gold standard” study.
There is no doubt that some of the greatest leaps in thought were simply outside the box thinking, evidenced by a “relatively” significant college drop-out some have heard of with the initials A.E. Sometimes, institutionalization contracts thinking.
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Third, funding comes most often from the government (NIH) or private corporations (big pharma). Neither actively encourages real disruptive ideas as NIH grants usually piggy-back previous research, and big pharma wants to sell product.
Even if clinical trial revenue streams encouraged sideways leaps in discovery, the mechanics of trials are a bit clumsy. For example, there is almost no funding devoted to the marketing of clinical studies to the public, and some difficulty getting good caseload.
Free cancer care!! Why have we not heard this in areas around veterinary universities or referral centers? Oh wait, does that make the research less “elegant”?
Academics are expected to carry their normal load of teaching, research and administrative tasks. This dilutes progress. Many academics loathe teaching anyway. Let’s get problem-oriented!
Where are the research dream teams? Getting specialists to attack, in parallel, different aspects of a common goal filled the presidency seat. Is cancer research not worthy of this strategy?
In many ways, our traditions in information accrual are paralyzing our ability to problem solve. We have become unable to widen back, drowning in minutae and suffocating in fear of criticism by peers.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.