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Some More Than Others

Some cancers don't get the same level of funding from nonprofit organizations as others, particularly if they are associated with a stigmatized behavior like smoking or tanning bed use, a new analysis has found.

Researchers from Northwestern University collected data on 119 cancer-related nonprofits, including the revenue they report and the cancer types they fund. As they report this week in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the researchers found that breast cancer, leukemia, and pediatric cancers generated the largest revenue, and are well funded in relation to their incidence, mortality, and person-years of life lost. In contrast, based on those metrics, gastrointestinal, gynecologic, brain, and lung cancers were poorly funded, the researchers report.

They particularly found that cancers associated with stigmatized behaviors — such as lung cancer, cervical cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancer — were underfunded. "Shame and discomfort with talking about our bowels and 'private parts' may be reducing funding for diseases like colon or endometrial cancer," first author Suneel Kamath, who was chief fellow in the department of hematology and oncology at Northwestern when the study was done, says in a statement.

He adds, though, that "the goal of this 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 currently."