Prostate Cancer UK initiates “Sledgehammer” campaign


According to information on the Prostate Cancer UK web site and in an article in The Daily Telegraph, Prostate Cancer UK is initiating a new campaign to raise money for prostate cancer research in the UK.

The so-called “Sledgehammer” fund has been designed to increase funding for prostate cancer research in the UK to a level more closely aligned to the level of funding for breast cancer and other forms of cancer. According to a table provided by Prostate Cancer UK in their media release, funding for prostate cancer research in the UK, when assessed in terms of money invested per year as compared to patients diagnosed, is 20th on the list, at about £417 per patient per year (US$680). This investment per patient can be compared to the £1,083 invested in testicular cancer research (US$1,765) and the £1,912 invested in ovarian cancer research (US$3,116).

There is certainly a good argument that research into prostate cancer is underfunded by comparison to other forms of cancer (and not just in the UK). However, it is wise for advocates to bear in mind that the types of comparative data provided by Prostate Cancer UK in their media release can be both misleading and counterproductive. Most nations tend to have national budgets for cancer research. In other words, the size of the pot is fixed, and so if we increase the amount of funding targeted to prostate cancer research we are likely to decrease the funding targeted to other cancers. This game of implicitly claiming that Cancer A is deserving of at least the same amount of funding as Cancer B can have devastating effects.

It is clear that Prostate Cancer UK is actually trying to increase the size of the research funding “pot” for prostate cancer by bringing in new monies from outside sources, specifically targeted to support research specific to prostate cancer (in the same way that the Prostate Cancer Foundation does in the USA and the Movember initiative does globally). From that point of view, the charity might have done better to set a series of specific goals rather than implicitly suggest that prostate cancer is underfunded compared to other forms of cancer. In the UK, for example, if prostate cancer research were to be funded at the same level as breast cancer research, the Sledgehammer fund would need to raise about £18 million (US$29 million) each year based on current national funding statistics. That is unlikely to be a realistic goal, so just how much is it that Prostate Cancer UK is trying to raise?

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is all for increasing the funds available to support high quality research that will lead to extended survival and better quality of life for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, but there is more to this than claiming that prostate cancer is underfunded by comparison with other forms of cancer on the basis of the number of persons diagnosed each year.

2 Responses

  1. Seeing as PCUK has received in excess of £30 million from the Movember Foundation — how much of that was used to fund research?

  2. That’s actually true that comparative data provided by Prostate Cancer UK in their media release can be both misleading and counterproductive. Hopefully there will be more research to find a curative treatments for the disease.

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