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Follow the Dollar Signs

by on April 18, 2012

On Monday, AJ discussed the sad truth that in the war on cancer, ovarian cancer is still winning while breast cancer is clearly losing.

One of the reasons for this could very well be the number of grants awarded and research money funded toward breast cancer as opposed to that of ovarian cancer.

Before I go on, a bit of a disclaimer: I will admit quite honestly here that I’m not sure I’m getting the full scope of the funding provided to both causes both from a non-profit and government stand point.  I’m no expert.

But here is what I did find.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides the chart below depicting the governmental research spending for the 10 most common types of cancer.  You will notice that ovarian cancer is not on the list – as we discussed a few weeks ago, ovarian cancer is the 8th most common cancer for women and the 5th leading cause of cancer related death for women.

NCI spending stats

Using the search function in the NCI Funded Research Portfolio for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) funding, the NCI funded breast cancer research at its highest level providing $625,059,909 in grants while ovarian cancer research received $110,825,125.  Basic math shows that breast cancer research is funded at nearly 6 times the amount of ovarian cancer research.

Though in fairness, it should be noted that when compared to the chart above, ovarian cancer received more funding than 5 out of the 10 most common types of cancer.

If we use the American Cancer Society as a benchmark for non-profit spending, as of 3/1/12, breast cancer research had been awarded 226 current grants totaling $117,265,595 while ovarian cancer research had been awarded 59 grants totaling $30,373,000.  That’s nearly 4 times the number of grants and research funding.

Let’s now look at cause specific organizations.

Susan G. Komen began with a single $28,000 grant in 1982.  The organization has invested nearly $685 million since then and now manages nearly 600 active research grants totaling nearly $300 million. (1) The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund has not had nearly so long a history but the organization has funded 164 grants worth nearly $40 million since 1998. (2)

I certainly don’t begrudge those organizations and the grants they provide because, really, cancer research is cancer research and helps all types of cancer.  At the same time, I don’t know about you, but that sure reads like a heck of a lot of research money going toward a cancer whose battle is nearly won.

For more information about ovarian cancer research funding, click here.

– Marcy


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