Cancer and Gender




While the rate of cancers specifically affecting women, such as breast cancer, have generally declined, the rate of cancers affecting men have either remained stable or increased.  To what extent might this difference be due to the fact that those cancers which affect men receive substantially less funding than those which affect women?   For example, while prostate and breast cancer have approximately the same mortality rates, prostate cancer research receives far less funding than does breast cancer research.



Breast vs. Prostrate Cancer



                                                              Estimated             Estimated             Estimated            Estimated

                    Cancer Type       New Cases           New Cases             Deaths                     Deaths

                                                             Women                        Men                       Female                      Male



                       prostate                       n/a                         184,500                          n/a                         39,200


                       breast                       178,700                        1,600                      43,500                            400


                   Source: American Cancer Society




1.    In 1993, the National Cancer Institute spent $55.1 million on prostrate cancer   research and $213 million on breast cancer research.  Approximately 35,000 men died of prostate cancer that year, compared to 45,000 women who died of breast cancer.  NCI, thus, spent $1,574 per death on prostate cancer research in 1993 compared to $4,645 per death on breast cancer research. (see Andrew Kadar, "The Sex-Bias Myth in Medicine", Atlantic Monthly. August 1994).


2.   In 1996, Federal allocations for prostate research totaled $80 million, compared to  over $500 million dollars for breast cancer research.*


3.   In 1997, The National Cancer Institute (NCI) spent $332.9 million on breast cancer, but only $74 million on prostate cancer.*


4.   $1,950 in public and private funds were spent on research for each prostate cancer death in 1997, while $12,200 was spent on research for each breast cancer death.*  By comparison, in 2000 the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated that it spent only $1,200 per lung cancer death, a far deadlier form of cancer.**


*  Information was obtained from Prostate Action Network.

**  National Cancer Institute. Report of the Lung Cancer Progress Review Group. 2001.



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According to  the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the mortality rate for cancer is consistently higher among men than among women. 


Furthermore, according to the CDC, the total cancer death rate among men has increased nearly 20% during the past 50 years, while actually decreasing slightly among women.


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