Commenting on Steve’s post “Cutting Medicaid; Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer”, I mentioned the disparity between the attention given to breast cancer and that given to prostate cancer.
In response to my comment, Janice said, “Early detection and treatment of breast and cervical cancer saves lives, not true of prostate cancer.” Janice is correct, and this post is not to denigrate Janice, but to highlight a bias in our society.
That fact that early detection and treatment of prostate cancer does not save lives may be due several reasons, or a combination of those reasons. Prostate cancer may be easily treatable, therefore later stage prostate cancer can be easily and successfully treated. Prostate cancer may be particularly virulent and treatment rarely succeeds no matter what the stage. Prostate cancer grows slowly but the medications and techniques to successfully treat prostate cancer are not yet known, thus early detection doesn’t help significantly. There may be other reasons, but these will suffice for the moment.
According to this “Cancer Facts & Figures” (2010) from the American Cancer Society, more men die from every category of cancer except breast cancer (390 males, 39,840 females), the other female specific cancers and endocrine system (1,140 males, 1,430 females). Overall, males die from cancer more than females. (299,200 males, 270,290 females). But, how is the funding for cancer research distributed? Not very evenly.
Among the big cancers, breast cancer receives the most funding per new case, $2,596 — and by far the most money relative to each death, $13,452. Notably, prostate cancer, the most common cancer, receives the least funding per new case at just $1,318. But on a per-death basis it ranks second, with $11,298 in N.C.I. funds.
Here’s a look at the N.C.I. cancer funding based on 2006 death rates and incidence rates for some of the most common and deadliest cancers.
|Cancer (Deaths)||N.C.I. Funding per Death|
|Pancreas (32,300 )||$2,297|
|Cancer (New cases)||N.C.I. Funding per New Case|
In the Cancer Facts & Figures, we see 207,090 new cases of breast cancer in females in 2010 and 217,730 new cases of prostate cancer. We’ve seen how the funding numbers look per individual case and death, how about overall? From the National Cancer Center:
|Cancer Type||2008 Spending
As you can see, breast cancer research receives more than double the funding than any other form of cancer, including the number one killer, lung cancer, 157,300 deaths vs 72,280 for breast and prostate cancer using the ACS figures.
I’m going to posit that the reason Janice’s statement, “Early detection and treatment of breast and cervical cancer saves lives, not true of prostate cancer,” is true is the third reason I listed, “the medications and techniques to successfully treat prostate cancer are not yet known, thus early detection doesn’t help significantly.” It seems quite likely that, had the same funding and emphasis been put on prostate cancer over the past few decades as has been to breast cancer, early detection would save lives.
But, as we’ve seen more and more in our society, men matter less and less. Men seem to be in the position of group A in H. M. Stuart’s post, Politics and the English Language. Feminism has wielded a heavy hand over the past few decades. Trouble is a lot of men don’t care about men either, that doesn’t improve the odds of them getting laid.