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.
* * * * *
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the mortality rate for cancer is consistently higher among men than among women.
The total cancer mortality rate among men is 247.4 per 100,000 men in the population compared to 169.6 per 100,000 for women in the population. Male mortality from cancer exceeds female mortality by 46%.
The mortality rate for lung cancer among men is 76.6 per 100,000 men in the population compared to 41.8 per 100,000 for women in the population. In other words, lung cancer mortality among men is 83% higher than among women.
Colorectal cancer mortality among men is 24.9 per 100,000 compared to 17.9 per 100,000 in women, placing the incidence of colorectal cancer at almost 40% higher in men than in women.
With regard to the two forms of cancer that are specifically sex related --i.e., breast vs. prostate cancer-- prostate cancer mortality exceeds breast cancer mortality by nearly 10% (29.7 per 100,000 compared to 27.1 per 100,000).
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.