Vaccine development efforts currently focus on cancers with a higher incidence rather than those with a higher mortality rate, according to a recent University of Michigan study. As a result, cancer vaccinations today may not best serve the needs of cancer patients tomorrow.

The cancers with the highest number of active clinical trials in 2011 are melanoma (40), breast (34), lung (30), prostate (22), and brain (20). And the five cancers with the highest 5-year mortality are:

lung (186,000)

pancreatic (40,000)

colon (35,000)

breast (21,000)

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liver and bile duct (21,000)

While there are currently 90 therapeutic vaccines in development against these 5 types of cancer, there are 146 vaccines targeting cancers with lower 5-year mortality.

“This mismatch is unfortunate for patients,” says Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., associate professor of pediatrics, internal medicine, and public policy at the University of Michigan Health System and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “Cancers with higher mortality currently have fewer vaccines in development. For therapeutic vaccines to make the biggest difference in cancer care, development must focus more on high-mortality tumors.”

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…

  • Where do you think vaccination development funds would be best allocated?