VIENNA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Austrian medical experts have bemoaned the lack of available funding for cancer research ahead of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2012 Congress on Friday.
Experts said at a pre-Congress press conference Wednesday that incidences of cancer are on the increase, with Congress organiser Christoph Zielinski describing a lack of research funding in Austria as "disgraceful."
"With early detection and better care cancer will not simply be seen as a death sentence," said Zielinski, who is also director of the Clinical Division of Oncology and chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna.
He added that 500,000 Europeans die from cancer each year, and in Austria alone 300,000 people currently live with cancer, of whom 59,000 have breast cancer.
At the press conference, he announced that in 2013 a nation-wide mammography screening program would begin for women aged between 45 and 70 years old, but said that funding for a colon cancer screening program was not available.
President of the Austrian Society for Hematology and Oncology Gunther Gastl said only 15 to 20 percent of research studies into cancer were academically-based with the remainder conducted by industry, while in the United States of America 60 percent of clincal studies were academic.
Zielinski laid particular blame for the lack of funding at the Federal Ministry for Science and Research.
"The science ministry has an extraordinary obligation to provide," he said.
The ministry responded to the criticism via a press release on Wednesday, where it said it "put particular focus on fundamental medical research, and also built up pre-clinical and clinical research."
It also pointed out its establishment of Comprehensive Cancer Centers at all three Austrian medical universities as well as the Austrian Drug Screening Institute in Innsbruck.