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Feb 072011

Sometimes it seems like breast cancer gets a little too much publicity in comparison to other cancers.; it seems that breast cancer gets 10 mentions in the media to every mention of prostate cancer; not to mention lung cancer which causes more deaths in women than breast cancer.

I’ll be using figures from Cancer Research UK to make the points throughout this posting …

First of all lets get the big figures out of the way. In 2008, breast cancer killed 12,047 women (and 69 men) in comparison to total deaths from cancer of 156,723 – “only” 7%; even excluding cancer deaths for men, breast cancer claimed 16% of all cancer deaths for women.

Lung cancer is the one that claims the most lives – 22% of all cancer deaths are from lung cancer, but we can ignore them because it’s the fault of those smokers. Although according to the Wikipedia article on lung cancer between 10-15% of all deaths from lung cancer are from non-smokers – probably all passive smokers.

After the two big cancers, we get prostate cancer which claimed the lives of 10,168 men, or 6,5% of all cancer deaths – not much behind the levels of breast cancer And just for those who aren’t paying attention, no there were no deaths amongst women from prostate cancer.

Including all deaths from gender specific cancers (and I’ll cheat and include the breast cancer figures for both men and women), male specific cancers account for 6.65% of all cancer deaths, and female specific cancers count for 12.5% of all cancer deaths. That is quite a significant difference, and significantly more than the figure of 7% for breast cancer deaths amongst women.

If you look at cancer as a whole, 52% of all cancer deaths were men, and 48% women. It’s relatively even despite the increased risk women run of dying from a female specific cancer. Of all non gender specific cancers, men had a higher number of deaths in 22 out of 27 different cancer categories.

So let us have a look at the figures from the media. Specifically counting the search results from the BBC News website :-

Search Phrase Number of results Percentage of mentions Percentage of deaths
“Cancer” 14401 100% 100%
“Breast Cancer” 2206 15% 7%
“Prostate cancer” 606 4.2% 6.5%
“Lung Cancer” 758 5.2% 22%
“Rectal Cancer” 40 2.7% 10.4%

I think it’s more than obvious that breast cancer gets a little more attention than the others. That’s not to say it gets too much attention – it’s the others that get too little.

  • Heather

    I really seem to go along with everything that was put
    into writing inside “Does Breast Cancer Get Too Much Attention