Sylvester cancer center finds 'marked disparities' in federal grants

Miami-based Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers found federal cancer research funding is heavily allocated to cancers that occur more often in white people than other racial groups.

The study analyzed federal funding data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, the U.S. Cancer Statistics database and Funding Statistics between 2014 and 2018. For each year, researchers identified incidence rates and mortality rates by race per 100,000 people in the 19 most common cancer sites. The team gave each a funding-to-lethality score, which incorporates the incidence rate of the disease, the mortality rate and the person-years of life lost.

The analysis found funding across cancer centers is not concordant with lethality, and cancers with high incidence among racial minorities received less funding. For instance, the study found breast cancer research was funded approximately 50 times more than stomach cancer in 2018, despite breast cancer deaths only having four times more estimated deaths than stomach cancer.

Here are three other study findings:

  1. Breast cancer, leukemia and lymphoma more frequently affect white people and receive more funding than stomach, uterine and liver cancers, which affect more racial minorities.

  2. There was a stronger correlation between funding-to-lethality scores and race-specific cancer incidence rather than mortality.

  3. There was a moderate to strong correlation between a cancer's mortality among white people and its funding-to-lethality score, but only a weak correlation for all other racial groups.

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