HSR19-094: A Comparison of Cancer Burden and Funding From the National Cancer Institute and Nonprofit Organizations Reveals Disparities in the Distribution of Funding Across Cancer Types

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  • a Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
  • b Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
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Background: National Cancer Institute (NCI) and nonprofit organization (NPO) funding have driven recent advancements in oncology through research and advocacy. However, some cancers may be underfunded relative to their burden. This study examined the alignment of cancer burden by histology with NCI and NPO funding for each histology. Methods: The GuideStar database was used to find all cancer NPOs with >$5 million (M) in annual revenue (AR) using NTEE codes and 165 cancer-related search terms. Care delivery NPOs were excluded. NPOs were classified by the histology they support. AR was obtained from IRS Form 990s for each NPO. NCI funding allocation across histologies was obtained from the NCI Funded Research Portfolio data. Total funding for each histology was calculated by adding the NCI funding and the ARs for all NPOs in that histology. Cancer burden based on annual incidence, deaths, and person-years of life lost (PYLL) was obtained from SEER data. Comparison of total NCI and NPO funding with incidence, deaths, and PYLL of each histology was done using descriptive statistics and Pearson correlation coefficients. Results: 119 NPOs with total AR of $6 billion were included. 59 (50%) were histology agnostic and accounted for $4.6 billion (76.8%) of total AR. Cancers with the most NPOs were breast (13, 11%), pediatric (13, 11%), leukemia (4, 3.4%) and lung (4, 3.4%). There were no NPOs with AR >$5 M for esophageal, gastric, kidney, or bladder cancers. Cancers with the most combined NCI and NPO funding were breast ($1 billion), leukemia ($448 M), lung ($348 M), and prostate ($303 M). The ratios of combined NCI and NPO funding vs incidence, mortality, and PYLL are shown in . Cancers with the best funding vs incidence were leukemia, ovarian, and breast. Cancers with the best funding vs deaths were breast, leukemia, and melanoma. Cancers with the best funding vs PYLL were breast, leukemia, and prostate. Colon, liver, lung, and bladder cancers were poorly funded in all 3 metrics. The correlation coefficients between funding and incidence, deaths, and PYLL were 0.74, 0.34, and 0.36, respectively. Conclusions: There is substantial support for cancer research and advocacy in both the government and nonprofit sectors. While funding by cancer type was moderately proportional to incidence, it was poorly correlated with deaths and PYLL. There is significant need to increase awareness and support for many under-supported, but common and highly lethal cancers.

Corresponding Author: Suneel D. Kamath, MD
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