Sunday, August 16, 2009

Government's Huge Cancer Funding Gender Gap

The chart above shows the estimated number of new cancer cases in 2008 for gender-specific cancers, using data from the American Cancer Society. For men most of the cases were for prostate cancer, and for women it was mostly new cases of breast cancer, but also cervical and ovarian cancer. The ratio of new gender-specific cancers in 2008 was 1.32 new female cases of cancer for every one male case.

What about government funding for gender-specific cancers? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that they will spend $4,446,000,000 in 2009 for female-specific cancers (breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and “women’s health”) and $299,000,000 for men’s cancer (prostate cancer), which is a ratio of almost 15:1 in favor of women (see chart below). For spending in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cancer Programs, the gap is even greater: they will spend $218 million on female-specific cancers (breast, cervical, ovarian and gynecologic cancer) and $13.245 million on prostate cancer, which is a ratio of 16.5 to 1 in favor of women (see chart below).

Even adjusting for the greater rate of new cancer cases affecting women (1:32 to 1), and the fact that female cancers are deadlier than male cancers by a ratio of about 2:35 to 1, there still seems to be a significant gender gap in favor of women for federal spending on cancer research and prevention.
Originally posted at Carpe Diem.


At 8/16/2009 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This doesn't even account for PRIVATE donations which are also heavily stilted toward women. They have their "Race for the Cure" and pink ribbons. Organizations and activities for male cancer research are much less visible.

Take a look at HIV spending relative to deaths. It's off the charts.

At 8/16/2009 10:28 PM, Blogger Bret said...

Did you take average age of onset (or distribution of ages) into account?

At 8/17/2009 1:16 AM, Blogger Jason Woertink said...

What about research into heart disease? I thought that a lot of money is spent there and the disease is more common though no exclusive to men.

At 8/17/2009 4:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you take average age of onset (or distribution of ages) into account?

Why? The claim that breast cancer is a disease of young women is a lie. Rare and famous cases like Christina Applegate aside, like most cancers breast cancer is a disease of the old, with diagnoses generally in your 60s or later.

The one cancer I know really does hit the young hard is testicular cancer. The average age at diagnosis is something like 25.

At 8/17/2009 7:17 AM, Blogger Bret said...

Well, it is closer than I thought. According to google, median age for breast cancer is 61, while for prostate cancer it's 71.

Still, considering years left, it would make sense to spend more per case due to age of onset.

At 8/17/2009 8:55 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

MY takeaways from this:

The world isn't fair.
Governments are especially unfair. Markets may not allocate resources perfectly, but they would probably do a better job than the gov't in this case

At 8/17/2009 5:33 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

The cancer funding discrepancy is worse than shown. Each year, more women are diagnosed with cancer than men, but that's primarily because there are more elderly women than elderly men, and most cancers strike in old age. The new cancer rates per 100,000 persons will show much less difference between men and women.

In reference to Randian's comment: childhood cancers include leukemia, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma (muscle), and osteosarcoma (bone). Young adults are susceptible to lymphoma, testicular carcinoma, and some forms of breast cancer. Middle-aged cancers: ovarian, breast, pancreatic, hepatocellular (liver), multiple myeloma (bone marrow), etc. Old age: prostate, breast, lung, leukemias, lymphomas, and dozens of others.

Best way (based on years of life lost) to spend cancer research money: childhood and young adult lymphoma, testicular cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, and multiple myeloma. Childhood leukemia, breast cancer, and prostate cancer already have good survival rates.

At 8/17/2009 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know about childhood cancers. My point was that besides straight up sexism, the huge funding discrepancy is based in part on widespread media coverage of fallacious claims that female-specific cancers disproportionately strike the young. Famous women with cancer are then trotted out as proof.

At 9/21/2009 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your methodology is a bit flawed. The NIH data source you used has states:
"The research categories are not mutually exclusive. Individual research projects can be included in multiple categories so amounts depicted within each column of this table do not add up to 100 percent of NIH-funded research. "

The clearest evidence of this is that summing the categories leads to a figure of over $120 billion, when the actual NIH budget is around $30 billion.

At 11/08/2009 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heart disease is affecting more women each year and hardly anything is being done about that. You see ads for donations to breast cancer when in fact, a female has more of of a chance of something wrong with her heart than her breast. That's why heart disease is the leading killer, not breast cancer. More has to be done to get the word out about the heart


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