Article on childhood cancer research funding is misleading

Op-eds Opinions

Recently, a Huffington Post article that some of my friends have been sharing on Facebook has been very irritating: Erin Santos’s “Awareness . . . What a Bullsh*t Word.” Santos comments that the United States spends too much money on government-related expenditures such as elections, and not enough money on childhood cancer research. She also adds that her daughter died of cancer, which I find irrelevant to her uninformed argument.

Santos states that only four per cent of the money towards cancer research goes towards childhood (pediatric) cancer research. Santos fails to mention what the four per cent is worth.

In the U.S., the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI), budget for 2013 was $4.8 billion (USD). If Santos is correct that childhood cancer research receives 4 per cent of $4.8 billion, that’s $192 million. Childhood cancer research is getting $192 million from the U.S. Congress. And then, one supposes, the other $4.6 billion is given to the bureaucrats to spend on themselves.


No, it’s not. The other 96 per cent of the money goes towards research on other cancers. In 2012, the NCI supported 8 525 different cancer research projects. The funding given solely for the 255 childhood leukemia research projects was $58 518 582 USD.

Furthermore, the money that goes to other forms of cancer research may overlap with children’s cancer. For example, the most common cancers found in children (and their NCI funding sums for 2012 in USD) are: leukemia ($234 716 347), brain and other central nervous system tumors ($171 301 440),neuroblastoma ($27 138 562), wilms tumor ($2 991 535), lymphomas ($13 502 757), sarcoma ($61 782 836), and retinoblastoma, or eye cancer ($3 165 206).

This adds to $636 198 683 in funding towards the seven most common types of childhood cancers, including the $58 million that is specifically for childhood leukemia. Including for childhood leukemia, over $6.9 million in funding was given to research for the most common cancers found in children, and yet Santos calls “bullshit” on the effectiveness of childhood cancer research fundraising. Research for penis cancer got less than $3 million.

Long story short: childhood cancer research receives a lot of funding, albeit indirectly. I’m not suggesting that it shouldn’t receive more. I don’t believe that research for a disease can get too much funding. I’m saying, however, that Erin Santos’s article is definitely blurring the facts.