The most powerful weapon for tackling cancer is research, and for that reason the Spanish cancer association AECC has started a campaign to collect at least 500,000 signatures and deliver them to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.
The aim is to create a national strategy for cancer research and persuade the government to double, at least, the money it has spent on oncological research during the past ten years, from about 1.55 billion euros to three billion in the next decade. This increase is essential if the survival rate for patients with a tumour is to reach 70 per cent by 2030; at present it is 53 per cent.
Two other priorities for the AECC are to encourage Spanish researchers to return from abroad and attract scientific talent from elsewhere.
The start of the campaign to collect signatures in Malaga began on Monday this week, coinciding with World Cancer Research Day. It was accompanied by a 'performance' by an actor posing as a researcher, who only moved when someone signed the statement and placed it in a special postbox, to illustrate how research cannot advance as quickly as needed without enough support.
The president of the provincial board of the AECC, Francisco Aguilar, said it is essential for more money to be allocated for research, because in recent years the amount has been reduced by over 20 per cent.
He said there should be a special box for people to tick on tax declarations in case anyone wants to make a contribution. That would be a way of helping to increase donations to science.
"Research is the only way we can defend people against cancer. The funds we receive at present are just not enough," he said.
Researchers in Malaga
Francisco Aguilar also stressed that collaboration from the public is essential, which is why he is urging people to sign the petition to demand more money for cancer research.
He pointed out that researchers in Malaga are carrying out essential work, especially those at the Malaga Institute of Biomedical Research (Ibima).
"We need to highlight the value of what is being done in Malaga, where the AECC spends 200,000 euros a year on cancer research," he said.
The AECC warns that cancer is expected to become the main cause of death in the world and it predicts that the number of cases of tumours will increase by 21.5 million before 2030. That is why the association is calling for twice as much funding for research.
It also stresses the importance of prevention, early detection and new treatments. The aim is to increase the rate of cure or, at least, convert cancer into a chronic illness with a high survival rate among patients.