Of nearly 80,000,000 USD in funding for bladder cancer research between 2017 and 2019, approximately half was allocated to non-priority areas [1]. Better mechanisms in grant selections are needed to align funding more closely to stakeholder-identified high-priority research areas. Patient-centered care includes not just delivery of clinical care but also allocation of funding to stakeholder-identified priority areas. A recent project examined the relationship between funding patterns and priority research areas that have been identified and compiled through the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. Different research needs were put forward based on stage of cancer; namely, if the cancer was non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC), muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC), or metastatic. The top 2 priorities in each area were:

  • NMIBC: 1) decision-making about radical cystectomy and timing, and 2) treatment options for intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) therapy-resistant bladder cancer;
  • MIBC: 1) decision-making about bladder preservation versus radical cystectomy, and 2) type of urinary diversions; and
  • metastatic bladder cancer: 1) incorporating novel treatments, and 2) treatment sequencing.

Researchers found that between 2017 and 2019, $78,525,974 funded 298 bladder cancer-focused research efforts in Canada and the US. They analyzed the data based on country, year of funding, focus of the agency, stage of cancer, and funding amount to identify if the amount of funding support was proportionate to previously identified research needs. They discovered that only 30% of these research dollars directly funded research focused on high-priority research needs, while 20% was diverted towards projects which explored research areas deemed less important. The remaining 50% supported research endeavors that had not even been identified as research priorities. Also of note is the fact that non-bladder-specific cancer agencies allocated more funding to priority projects than bladder-specific cancer agencies. The team concluded that their analysis has identified the need to improve research funding mechanisms in bladder cancer research; a greater proportion of research dollars must be allocated towards stakeholder-identified priority research needs.

  1. Kaiser J. Bladder cancer research funding in Canada and the United States: A comparison between stakeholder priorities and resource allocation from 2017 to 2019. ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, 11-13 February 2021.