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Deadliest cancers get fewest donations: report

That sea of breast cancer pink that washes over media and retail every October? It's working. Breast cancer accounts for almost half of all cancer donations in Canada, according to a new report.

But the flip side of the coin is that unlike breast cancer, four of the deadliest cancers in Canada get the fewest charitable donations, according to a piece on the report in the Vancouver Sun.

The report is the first of its kind from a group called Charity Intelligence Canada. It found that many of the cancers that take the most years of life from Canadians - pancreatic, stomach, lung and colorectal cancers - account for less than two per cent of cancer charity funding.

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Statistics Canada recently reported the five-year survival rates for most cancers.

"There are a lot of cancer charities. Some of them are very small; some of them deal only in research on modest level; some don't do research at all. I think that lumping them all together is not necessarily casting the most illumination on this issue but it's a start," Michael Wosnick, vice-president of research for the Canadian Cancer Society, which contributed data to the review, told the reporter.

Cancer charities received an estimated $1.9 billion in 2009, including $1.3 billion from government sources and $614 million from voluntary donations, according to the piece.

Karen Greve Young, co-author of the report and a cancer research analyst, said that in addition to raising the most money of all cancers - 47 per cent of charitable cancer donations - breast cancer is also the most funded cancer, receiving 28 per cent of all Canadian cancer funding.

Ms. Young said those afflicted with the deadliest cancers, such as pancreatic cancer aren't getting the chance to speak out for their cause and to ask the public for support -they're not living long enough to do so. (Breast cancer has an 89 per cent five-year survival rate, according to the report.)

"Breast, leukemia, childhood cancers ask loudly and frequently whereas other cancers like pancreatic, stomach, lung and colorectal don't have a voice," Ms. Young told the Sun.

Could knowing more about the cancer funding and donation landscape affect your charitable donations?

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If you've donated to pink-ribbon campaigns in the past, would you consider shifting your support to a more deadly cancer?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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