Uterine Cancer Mortality on the Rise, but Research Remains Underfunded

The study also highlighted racial disparities in research funding for uterine cancer and other reproductive cancers.

A new study suggests that research on uterine cancer is underfunded, when compared with other reproductive cancers, despite the fact that death rates are increasing in patients with uterine cancer.

The study also highlighted racial disparities in research funding for uterine cancer and other reproductive cancers. These findings were presented at the 2023 SGO Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer by Linda Zambrano, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

For this study, Zambrano and colleagues evaluated National Cancer Institute funding allocation for female reproductive cancers during 2011-2018. The study’s primary outcome was funding to lethality (FTL) score, a metric that standardizes cancer site incidence, mortality, and years of life lost to measure disease burden.

The average FTL score was highest for breast cancer (1.87), which means that breast cancer research received the most funding relative to its overall lethality. FTL scores were much lower for ovarian cancer (0.10), cervical cancer (0.09), and uterine cancer (0.06). 

“Despite a sustained increase in uterine cancer mortality in the last decade, it is significantly underfunded compared to other female reproductive cancers,” Zambrano noted. Age-adjusted death rates for uterine cancer increased by 1.6% per year, on average, during 2011-2020.2

When Zambrano and colleagues examined FTL scores by race, White patients had higher FTL scores than Black patients for the following cancers:

  • Breast cancer — 2.09 for White patients and 1.21 for Black patients (P <.05)
  • Cervical cancer — 0.10 for White patients and 0.07 for Black patients (P <.05)
  • Uterine cancer — 0.06 for White patients and 0.03 for Black patients (P <.05).1 

There was no difference in FTL score for ovarian cancer, which was 0.13 for patients of both races.

“Interestingly, the cancers with differences in funding based on race are amenable to screening or early symptom review,” Zambrano said. “Across all screening modalities, racial disparities exist and have been directly linked to racial and ethnic differences in mortality.” 

“Race-specific burden of disease metrics can be used to better inform allocation of resources,” Zambrano added. “This study can help inform policy, advocacy, and equitable funding allocations to reduce racial disparities in cancer research and clinical outcomes.”

Disclosures: Zambrano reported having no conflicts of interest. 

This article originally appeared on Cancer Therapy Advisor


1. Zambrano L, Myers E, Spencer R, Havrilesky L, Moss H. Disparities in allocation of research funding for female reproductive cancers based on race-specific disease burden. SGO 2023. March 25-28, 2023.

2. SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Uterine Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/corp.html