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airowDee's avatar

Is it discrimination to apply 'gender' to cancers?

Asked by airowDee (1791points) September 24th, 2012

In Canada, we have an event called the Weekend to End all women’s cancer. The money raised from the event only goes to research for five gynecological cancers: ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal and vulvar.

Lung cancer is not one of them.

My mom is diagnosed with lung cancer in August; she never smoked and was not exposed to second hand smoke.

Lung cancer kills more women than those six cancers combined but it receives less attention and money.

Cancer is everyone’s disease. My mom is a woman with cancer, why is her cancer being excluded and not considered worthy of receiving research money?

I think its discrimination and unjust to put more attention on some types of cancer over others.

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18 Answers

DrBill's avatar

it is selective, not discrimination. My Father died from lung cancer, but I would still support their cause also.

Mariah's avatar

Hi Dee! Long time, no see.

I suppose they refer to those few as women’s cancer since they are the only cancers that affect only women (for obvious reasons); they’re not trying to say that women don’t get other cancers.

I do think it’s odd for certain cancers to get so much more recognition/funding than others. Unfortunately the issue with lung cancer is so many view it as being self-imposed due to smoking. Many, many cases of lung cancer happen in people who don’t smoke, however.

airowDee's avatar


Thanks, Mariah. You are super sweet. I havent been here in a long while. According to alot of stats, 20 percent of women with lung cancer never smoked. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, U.S federal research funding in 2007 from the National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense, and Centers for Disease Control amounted to $23,754 per breast cancer death, and only $1,414 per lung cancer death. Males have breast cancer too, btw. It’s discrimination and wrong to not put more attention on lung cancer when its more DEADLY. I think its wrong to market certain cancer as more worthy of research money by dividing the gender. I am pissed and upset.

Mariah's avatar

And I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s illness. May she make a full recovery. She’ll be in my thoughts.

zenvelo's avatar

Sorry to hear of your mother’s help, I pray that her doctors are able to help her get better.

Lung cancer affects both men and women, and because it affects men, its research has been more heavily financed than any other cancer. But the “women’s” cancers have been relatively underfunded and under researched compared to other cancers, particularly considering the high mortality rate. This is an effort to get funding for women specific problems.

airowDee's avatar


I do not know about the situation in the U.S. But according to Dr. Natasha Leighl, medical oncologist and president of Lung Cancer Canada. “Lung cancer kills more Canadians than breast, prostate and colon cancer added together each year.” Yet lung cancer receives only seven per cent of cancer-specific research funding, and less than one per cent of cancer donations. Lung cancer is very under researched and underfunded as well and very deadly and it should be included in any event that seeked to raise money to end cancer for women. I think any event that seek to end cancer for women and does not include lung cancer is at best short sighted. I think it makes sense to invest in the most deadly and most common cancer, regardless if the cancer belong to a woman’s body or a man’s body. I think its a better idea to simply focus on the disease that kill the most, and needs attention the most, instead of trying to use sex appeal to raise public attention.

airowDee's avatar

The situation seems to be the same in the U.S. According to an article from the New York Times ( , the most underfunded cancer is lung cancer among major cancers. “It is the biggest cancer killer in the country, yet on a per-death basis receives the least National Cancer Institute. funding among major cancers. ” I realize that all cancer needs attention, but it doesn’t make sense to marginalize the most common and most deadly cancer just because both men and women have lungs.

iphigeneia's avatar

It’s very interesting you should ask this, as it’s Blue September, but maybe that’s just an Australian thing. It’s an initiative to raise money for cancer in men. The website says men are 33% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and 30% more men die than women, which was completely news to me. I thought it would be roughly even.

I think with lung cancer specifically, people are less likely to donate because they link it with smoking. It’s completely unfair, and even those who were smoking a pack a day until they were diagnosed deserve support.

Cancer is a very complicated disease to treat, though, and I assume it’s easier to form a community with people who are going through the same issues. I think it’s reasonable for a fundraiser to choose one particular type of cancer or group of cancers. A lot of the people involved in that fundraiser have probably been affected by a gynecological cancer. Perhaps the name wasn’t the best choice, but it’s hardly “unjust”.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Yes it is. Especially in cancers that affect both genders but are predominate in one or the other. Men with breast cancer are not treated nearly as aggresively as women with breast cancer.

Some cancer insurances won’t even pay for treatment for men’s breast cancer without a fight. Mainly because they list as a precursor for treatment, you have to have a mamogram.

We have an all mens team that participates in the local breast cancer awareness runs, you can only make this team if you or a male relative has or had breast cancer.

airowDee's avatar


Definitely, I do feel the name is unjust. All women who have cancer should feel like they are included in an event that called “a weekend to end women’s cancer.” Men have breasts,, like WestRiverrat mentioned, so i dont think its fair to raise awareness for breast cancer because its a “woman’s cancer” and not lung cancer because its a “gender netural cancer”. Breasts are breasts, lungs are lungs. Why do some women with cancer in the ovaries get more research money than other women like my mother, who has cancer in her lung?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Here’s the thing with this – the problem isn’t that some cancers are getting more attention and therefore should get less because they’re not as common. The problem is that cancers that happen to persons with what we classify as female anatomy are way underfunded in all ways possible and we absolutely should focus on them AND we should focus on all cancer, in general. It doesn’t work like that though, things aren’t equitable. And, as you see, one person is all that counts when it’s your mom. Well, if your mom had ovarian cancer, you’d then feel differently. P.S. – even if she did smoke, she deserves all the care and the funding and the research. Do not attach morality to cancer.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s not discrimination. The cancers you named are cancers of the girly parts. Not even breast cancer is on your list, men have breasts. Some cancers are not found in both genders. Is the event a government event, or a private organization? I would say private organizations can do whatever they want. Breast cancer has tremendous attention mostly because of Susan Komen, a private citizen who lost her sister to breast cancer. She was disgusted by the stigma and shame of the disease and lack of funding and research. In the US many women are more concerned about breast cancer than heart disease because of her amazing marketing and promotion even though 1 in 3 women get heart disease and 1 in 9 get breast cancer.

You said Lung cancer is more deadly. Lung cancer is deadly, but so is ovarian cancer. It is horrific, usually diagnosed late, and often the woman dies fairly shortly after diagnosis.

You need to start a movement about lung cancer. Lung cancer carries stigma with it, and people do not generally know that there are many cases of lung cancers not caused by smoke. Most people don’t even know doctors can tell at the cellular level if the cancer is smoke related or not.

I would assume some funding does go into lung cancer research.

JLeslie's avatar

Here is a recent fund that was created for lung cancer. Sloan Kettering, mentioned in the article, is one of the premier cancer treatment hospitals in the US. The US government funds research for lung cancer, although it is much lower than other cancers from what I understand.

I’m really sorry about your mom :(. I know two very young people, 40’s, who had lung cancer who were not smokers. Very sad.

creative1's avatar

@airowDee The only one to change things is by stepping forward and doing for your cause, if you want to support your cause then there are ways that you can do so. Why not join the organization and come up with ideas to raise money for Lung Cancer. I know that when I was in RI I joined in raising money for The Tomorrow Fund who helps families of children with cancer. It was something that I felt passionate for so I didn’t sit and complain I got up and did something to help.

Just an FYI there is this weekend on the Cape in MA called the Autumn Escape Bike Ride maybe its something you could bring to Canada to raise awareness and money for your cause.

Trillian's avatar

The “event” was organized by individuals who have a vested interest, for what I’m sure are personal,legitimate reasons to them, in cancers that only women can get.
I suggest that you find people concerned with lung cancer and organize fund raisers of your own.
Think of the cancers that you left out of your indignation; prostate, colon, leukemia. Could not someone with a loved one who had one of these cancers consider your idea “exclusionary”? You listed a cancer that was important to you, and I understand your reasoning. When did it become important to you? If you say it was important before your mom was diagnosed, I probably would not believe you.
How long have the event organizers concerned with the issues for which they have chosen to lobby? I feel safe in guessing that it was long before your new-found concern.
I’m sorry to learn about your mother, truly I am.
But if you want to make a difference, you need to maintain a sense of proportion and reality. Lung cancer is something worthy of attention, funding, and more research. Absolutely.
So are the cancers that these people are concerned about. You can’t take on every issue, every disease, every social problem out there. What would you call an event like that? How would you divide up the funds afterward?
Be realistic in what you expect of others, and step up to the plate and raise awareness for you own issue, don’t complain that others are not.

airowDee's avatar

@JLeslie I dont disagree with you but i just want to clarify that the weekend to end women’s cancer was originally named the weekend to end breast cancer, so yes, it does include money going into breast cancer research, which i think its already receiving way too much attention compared to other cancer.


Yes , I only looked into the issue due to my mom’s disease. However, I think there is a rational basis to include lung cancer as a woman’s cancer because it is the number one killer disease for women and it is underfunded and under researched.

JLeslie's avatar

@airowDee I think there are so many health problems that are underfounded or unfairly funded. Just like in a company there is always someone underpaid or overpaid. Things are almost never perfectly just. I spent a few months of therapy in my teens accepting life is not fair. It sucks. I still have trouble with it from medical care to someone doing something shitty to a friend.

Trillian's avatar

Women get stomach cancer, liver cancer, all the cancers I listed before. You didn’t pay attention to the point I was making.
I told you to stop expecting others to take on your cause. Your reasoning is flawed. Your argument for inclusion is frivolous. You whining about lung cancer not being included in that particular event accomplishes nothing. Nor should it.
Start your own fund raiser, become part of the already established lung cancer fund raisers.

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