Disparities in the allocation of research funding to gynecologic cancers by Funding to Lethality scores

Published:November 04, 2018DOI:


      • There are disparities across cancer sites when NCI funding is measured using the Funding to Lethality score.
      • The three major GYN cancers show consistently decreasing Funding to Lethality scores over time.
      • Increased funding for GYN cancers is needed to keep pace with laboratory and clinical discoveries of other cancer sites.



      To analyze National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding distributions to gynecologic cancers compared to other cancers from 2007 to 2014.


      The NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER), Cancer Trends Progress Report, and Funding Statistics were used to analyze 18 cancer sites. Site-specific mortality to incidence ratios (MIR) were normalized per 100 cases and multiplied by person-years of life lost to derive cancer-specific lethality. NCI funding was divided by its lethality to calculate Funding to Lethality scores for gynecologic malignancies and compared to 15 other cancer sites.


      Ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers ranked 10th (score 0.097, SD 0.008), 12th (0.087, SD 0.009), and 14th (0.057, SD 0.006) for average Funding to Lethality scores. The highest average score was for prostate cancer (score 1.182, SD 0.364). In U.S. dollars per 100 incident cases, prostate cancer received an average of $1,821,000 per person-years of life lost, while ovarian cancer received $97,000, cervical cancer $87,000, and uterine cancer $57,000. Ovarian and cervical cancers had lower average Funding to Lethality scores compared to nine other cancers, while uterine cancer was lower than 13 other cancers (p < 0.01 for all comparisons). Analyses of eight-, five-, and three-year trends for gynecologic cancers showed nearly universal decreasing Funding to Lethality scores.


      Funding to Lethality scores for gynecologic cancers are significantly lower than other cancer sites, indicating a disparity in funding allocation that persists over the most recent eight years of available data. Prompt correction is required to ensure critical discoveries for women with gynecologic cancers.


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