New PRI's The World radio series on the global reach of cancer

The daily PRI radio news program The World will soon air a week-long series about cancer's global reach.

As regular Boing Boing readers know, cancer's been a frequent blogging topic of mine since I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost exactly one year ago this week.

From what host Marco Werman sent along, it sounds like a really great reporting series, and I'll definitely be tuning in.

Here's a preview of one episode that focuses on cancer care in Uganda. More below.

Part I: “Cancer’s Lonely Soldier” (airing December 3)
Dr. Jackson Orem heads the Uganda Cancer Institute. Until recently, he was the only oncologist in a country of more than 30 million people. He argues that cancer deserves the same attention given to other afflictions in the developing world, such as AIDS and malaria.

Part II: “Pink Ribbons to Haiti” (airing December 4)
Haitian women know little about breast cancer, and those who contract it rarely receive treatment. An American charity and its local partners are trying to change that, but it’s not easy providing cancer care in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

Part III: “An Ounce of Prevention” (airing December 5)
Cervical cancer is far more common – and more deadly – in the developing world than in the United States. One reason: women in the U.S. receive routine screening that catches the disease in its earliest stages. A low-cost test being rolled out in India could save tens of thousands of lives there each year.

Part IV: “The Infectious Connection” (airing December 6)
Cancer can be triggered by infectious diseases, especially in impoverished parts of the world. Scientists in the U.S. and Africa are working to unravel how viruses and bacteria cause malignancies. By breaking that cycle, they hope to prevent tumors from forming in the first place.

Part V: “Dispensing Comfort” (airing December 7)
Modern cancer care involves more than the latest surgical techniques and chemotherapy drugs; it also offers freedom from pain. Yet basic palliative care, in the form of morphine, is almost nonexistent for many patients in developing countries. What is being done to bring them pain relief?

PRI's The World has released two audio previews, to give you a feel for the series: here's a link to the cervical cancer story audio preview.

And here is the pain and palliative care tease.

(Thanks, Tory!)


  1. In fairness, HIV/AIDS and Malaria probably get more funding because they have the potential to decimate entire populations in ways that cancer doesn’t. (Which is not to say that cancer research doesn’t warrant more funding than it gets.)

  2. This is a terrible graphic. The fact that cancer is the #1 killer is a good thing; it means that all the money that we’ve spent on HIV antiretrovirals, antimalarials, or TB mitigation efforts has been money well spent. If we cut funding for these treatments, the cancer death rate will look like a drop in the proverbial bucket. Keep in mind that cancer treatment is also much more expensive than antibiotics or mosquito nets. We’re doing the most good that we can with the money that we have available. I feel for those that have cancer, but that doesn’t change the facts of the situation. 

    1. If you live long enough odds are good that heart disease, stroke or cancer (or some combination thereof) are going to catch up to you eventually. Everybody’s gotta die of something.

  3. Doesn’t “Cancer” actually cover a large number of illnesses? TB and HIV/AIDS funding / deaths should probably be compared more to (for example) lymphoma or Lukemia, right?

    1. I’m OK with lumping all the cancers together for the purpose of those charts since they apparently lumped all the funding for cancers together in a similar way.

  4. Most of that cancer money probably also goes to a much smaller portion of the population, but HIV and TB threaten billions. We’re focusing funding on the larger threat.

  5. Hmmmm:

    A) Population in low-/middle-income countries:  5838734476 (source: )B) World population: 6973738433 (source: Google)
    A/B = 84%.Not very surprising, is it?
    Also, TB / Malaria / HIV / Cancer. One of these isn’t transmissible, and thus doesn’t have compound interest effects in the future.

  6. As I’ve pondered since I was in my tweens (and I’m in my early 40s, now), if we don’t keep Our Mother clean, we’re all going to have problems. I pick up trash everywhere I go. It’s just something my father told me that’s good to do –leave no trace. Climbing Long’s Peak one day, I was appalled by piles of trash on the side of the trail. Colorado was once so clean, yet since we’ve become a melting-pot of tech and fun-in-the-sun-Cali-style-kinda-place, there’s trash everywhere. Denver had a brown cloud that hung over it, but now that cloud is up and down the entire Front Range. I spied that brown cloud from atop Hague’s Peak (~ 13,750′); a cloud that stretched from Cheyenne, Wyoming to the north and south past Denver.

    Basically, I’m saying that if you don’t have clean water and clean air, you can’t have clean food. Fracking, I’ve felt, threatens more than anything else this country has ever faced (I’m waiting for the Pentagon to declare fracking a national threat to our future safety).  This isn’t to mention the chemicals they apply or any processes that may inject a food-borne illness, like e-coli.  There’s a reason we don’t eat fish laced with mercury and PCBs. I grew up in Boulder, Colorado –I believe Mark Frauenfelder lived there, too– and I wonder if being next to the largest Superfund cleanup site was what gave my father incurable brain cancer…  I wonder if I’ll face the same fate…  For those that don’t know, the Rocky Flats facility produced plutonium triggers for all the nukes we built in a MAD race.  It may not be know for decades what the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi incident harbor, but I’m sure it’s not going to be good news.

    Our Mother is crying out for us to heal her and most of us just don’t seem to be listening.  We’re listening to everyone on our latest and greatest digital device, but that’s about it.  After reading an article on Mother Jones’ website about the utter poisoning of the Malays from the wasteproduct of mining rare-earth minerals, I decided to forego upgrading to a new iphone or android.  I’ll use what I have till it doesn’t work, then I’ll try to fix it.  And if I can’t, I have three other old clamshells I can reactivate.  I’ve been silently asking myself what this ‘thing’ is that we all seem to be rushing headfirst, blindly, into.  The future has been here for at least the past ten years, but it seems we slept through all these amazing technological feats and just kept asking, “What’s next?; How much faster can we make it?”

    Sorry, I’m not here to be on a soapbox, but I feel very passionate about the state and (dis)grace of this little bubble we live on.  If you’ve managed to read this far, thanks… One last thing (which I’ve been saying since I was in my early-20s!) that could help us more than anything else to help Our Mother is to legalize the growing of hemp; marijuana and all. There’s simply too many amazing properties of this plant that have been suppressed to the point of willful ignorance. That would be an amazing start.

  7. why don’t you plot all of this data as a function of time? that would be more germaine to the discussion. 

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