Northwestern University recently released the findings of a research report evidencing that a good deal of the most deadly and common cancers receive far less funding than what is actually required. The study evidence that these dangerous cancers actually receive less funding than other types of cancer types. It is the first study of its kind to compare nonprofit funding distribution in the United States across the cancer types.

Christopher McFadden reports on the study for Interesting Engineering.

What are the Lead Funded Forms of Cancer Research?

The Northwestern University team reported that colon, endometrial, liver and bile duct, cervical, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers were amongst the cancers receiving the least amount of financial support. A problematic picture exposed.

Better Funded Conditions

While still problematic in that they could use more funding, breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and pediatric cancers were overall well-funded

Researcher Comment

Dr. Suneel Kamath, Chief Fellow in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine noted: “The goal of the study is not to divert funds away from cancers that are well-supported but rather expand funding for other cancers that aren’t getting enough support.” He continued “These are all deadly and life-threatening diseases that deserve our attention and support.”

The Study

The team reviewed IRS tax records for nonprofits between 2017 and 2018. Key criteria included that the organizations must support cancer had made at least $5 million in annual revenue in 2015. The study was published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

They found that of the 119 organizations examined, a total of $5.8 billion was raised for cancer-related research. Of this, $4.59 billion (the vast majority) went to general cancer charities with no focus on one disease.

The Northwestern University team compared cancer type by total revenue with the number of new cases, the number of deaths and number of years of life lost to see if the total amount of funding for each cancer is proportional to how common and/or deadly cancer in fact is. The team published an informative grant which can be viewed by following the link at the bottom of this story.

Why Do Some Cancers Receive More Funding Than Others?

Why are some incredibly dangerous cancers not being funded at the levels we would expect? The Northwestern team explored this fundamental question. It would appear that a primary reason centers around public support or awareness for types of cancer. Notably, cancers associated with a societally stigmatized behavior such as lung cancer (smoking) was poorly funded—as well a liver cancer (drinking). Could it be that “Shame and discomfort with talking about our bowels and ‘private parts’ may be reducing the funding for diseases like colon or endometrial cancer” noted Suneel Kamath? 

Source: Interesting Engineering

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