Discrepancies between Canadian cancer research funding and site-specific cancer burden: a spotlight on ten disease sites

A. C. Coronado, C. Finley, K. Badovinac, J. Han, J. Niu, R. Rahal



Cancer research is essential in evaluating the safety and effectiveness of emerging cancer treatments, which in turn can lead to ground-breaking advancements in cancer care. Given limited research funding, allocating resources in alignment with societal burden is essential. However, evidence shows that such alignment does not typically occur. The objective of the present study was to provide an updated overview of site-specific cancer research investment in Canada and to explore potential discrepancies between the site-specific burden and the level of research investment.


The 10 cancer sites with the highest mortality in 2015—which included brain, female breast, colorectal, leukemia, lung, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovary, pancreas, prostate, and uterus—were selected for the analysis. Information about site-specific research investment and cancer burden (raw incidence and mortality) was obtained from the Canadian Cancer Research Survey and Statistics Canada’s cansim (the Canadian Socio-Economic Information Management System) respectively. The ratio of site-specific research investment to site-specific burden was used as an indicator of overfunding (ratio > 1) or underfunding (ratio < 1).


The 3 cancer sites with the highest research investments were leukemia, prostate, and breast, which together represented 51.3% of 2015 cancer research funding. Conversely, the 3 cancer sites with the lowest investments were uterus, pancreas, and ovary, which together represented 7.8% of 2015 research funding. Relative to site-specific cancer burden, the lung, uterus, and colorectal sites were consistently the most underfunded.


Observed discrepancies between cancer burden and research investment indicate that some cancer sites (such as lung, colorectal, and uterus) seem to be underfunded when site-specific incidence and mortality are taken into consideration.


Research investment; incidence; mortality

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.25.4230

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)