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Breast cancer is far more destructive than prostate cancer

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hominis clapham omniborum

More feminist tripe from the economist as it continues its journey to irrelevancy and guardian like absurdity under its new editor.

Men die younger so using the same meaningless measurement the life years lost for being a man dwarf the figures quoted in this article.

And of course, as, despite the efforts of the lgbt community, only woman die in childbirth, then the same argument could be used to just infinite health care spend on women.

Life's tough zanny. Get over it

umghhh in reply to homocidalmaniac

1. By most of people fear of death overcomes most of pain and suffering. There are exceptions.
2. There is a huge problem when instead of you making decision for yourself are pressed by somebody to make it (in order one would presume to save costs). This is not to say that a friendly advise is not possible and valuable but there is always this ugly possibility.
3. Chronic disease may be costly or unbearable but at the same time provides brilliant opportunity to make wealth.

This is my view on the subject. I have seen my family goes away in terrible pain spread over months. Morality, fear of death and existing law prevented even thinking about making it less painful or shorter for all concerned. I am not sure myself what I will do when I will be confronted with such a situation. It is likely to happen so I will know sure enough.


I don’t understand the point of this article at all. If it has a point, it is a rather bizarre one.
The medical FACT is men can get breast cancer too, while no women, to anyone’s knowledge, in the history of medicine, since Hippocrates (460 - 377 BC), has been known to have been stricken by prostate cancer.
The following is the FACT about MALE breast cancer -
TE, if it's all right to say, you really need to upgrade the work done by your research team. This is substandard.


Prostate cancers typically are something you die with, not of. They're usually comorbid with a host of other chronic health problems, especially heart disease, diabetes, and/or renal failure.

ashbird in reply to ashbird

Also, the picture you show for mammography for women is simply WRONG. Where did you get that from??!!
During a mammogram, the women's breasts are pressed (as flat as possible) between 2 plates - one, the base plate adjusted to her height, two, a top plate lowered to press on her breasts as tight as possible. This procedure is done for each breast separately.
Nothing like the picture you show. Not to mention the technician (a non-MD) who does the imaging and the radiologist (an MD) who does the reading are 2 separate people
Please, this is simply not acceptable work. Reflects poorly on your paper/magazine over all. The reader is led to wonder what else you do wrong. You really don't have to cover everything under the sun if you do not have enough staff to do adequate work.


Remember folks, women's issues are always, always, more important than men's.

If facts prove otherwise, don't worry, we'll find *some* way to reinterpret the data.


Could one manipulate the figures a bit more by comparing costs of treatment or income foregone, one may find that breast cancer is not only more destructive in terms of lost years but also in terms of productivity and overall societal costs. Does treating cancer justify the involved costs? In a great many cases, treatment of disease has created a huge diaspora of patients who are chronically unwell and unable to provide for themselves or their families. How beneficial is medical care if all it has done has been to prolong the suffering, at great cost to the State?


I find the Daily Mail's interpretation as suspect as TE. However, the authoritativeness of the article and tone is also substantially misplaced.
No one measure easily captures all of the dimensions of such devastating ailments. We develop these measures because we need some means allocating limited resources. It is not appropriate to use them as some sort of definitive measure of "who's got it the worst?"
Furthermore, the method of comparison has clearly cut corners itself to get the calculation done in time to be topical and to ignore other complications in calculation that could strengthen its logical foundations. For example, taking the average expected lifespan of the whole population largely ignores that many cancers tend to exhibit comorbidity with other ailments that can reduce lifespan and quality of life. Even if we could figure out how to cure both breast and prostate cancer, these conditions are more prevalent than in the general population and therefore muddy the interpretation.
My point is NOT that the measure developed by the Graphic Detail team is completely useless. Rather, that it implies a false sense of accuracy. The highly complex facets of human activity and the human condition require that attempts at quantification necessarily make trade-offs between completeness, comprehensibility, and accuracy. Those trade-offs should be better recognized than they are in this article.
("-" to preserve separation between paragraphs)

Jack Tar

Your piece perhaps could have mentioned the recent progress in men’s prostate surgery, which has been very encouraging. Enlarged prostates can now be treated cost-effectively with HOLEP (Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate). This technique was pioneered in New Zealand in the 1990s by Messers Gilling & Fraunhofer. Traditional radical prostatectomy surgery typically requires 14 days bed rest in hospital whereas, with HOLEP one can be out of hospital the next day (as I know from personal experience). Furthermore, HOLEP has a reduced risk of incontinence. Introducing HOLEP across the NHS would therefore not only save the NHS money, but benefit large numbers of men who would otherwise be condemned to use catheters & have urine bags permanently strapped to their legs. Until recently, HOLEP was only available through a couple of NHS Hospitals London & Cambridge (during the last 24 months this situation may have improved). To introduce HOLEP nationally, NHS Trusts would need to buy the surgical equipment & then retrain their urologists to use it. Last summer I suggested Prostate Cancer UK should conduct a cost benefit analysis into this issue, but unfortunatly this suggestion has not been pursued.


Measuring burden of disease can get complicated, and it might have been useful to check existing academic and NGO estimates. Still, it's good to see this kind of approach reported. Units like this (disability-adjusted life-years is another possibility) are better measures of overall burden of illness than total mortality.
At the same time, no unit is perfect, and some might argue that the count of deaths is still meaningful; 50 year olds aren't always excited about the idea that their life has half the value of a 20-year-old's (or less, if disability is taken into account).
Comparisons to breast cancer, anyway, will make any other disease look neglected, because breast cancer gets far more attention and donations than any other (this is the reason scams and 'pinkwashing' controversies have become common). To insist that other diseases of equal deadliness should get the same attention is like complaining about not being as famous as a celebrity.

guest-ommeoli in reply to guest-nswmssa

Well, for one, it's a completely biased way to interpret the data. It's moving the goalposts. Prostate cancer wasn't that important because of fewer deaths, but now it's all about potential years of life.
Anyway, according to every study ever, there's still a life expectancy gap between men and women and in every country in the world men lose more of those "potential years of life" in general. No fuss is ever given about that.
But now, in this specific context where it fits the author's viewpoint, it's suddenly the right metric to analyse the data. Funny how that works out, huh.


It is difficult to see what the significance of this article is. Each person only has one life, so the concept of years lost as a quantitative measure of the value of that life has no meaning. No one wants to die earlier than they have to.

Such statistical bafflegab is similar to airlines quoting their safety records by miles travelled instead of trips taken. Pick a meaningless statistic that bolsters your viewpoint, and go with it.

guest-nswmssa in reply to R.E.A.T.I.

"...taking the average expected lifespan of the whole population largely ignores that many cancers tend to exhibit comorbidity with other ailments that can reduce lifespan and quality of life."

I don't quite see how this invalidates the use of years lost as a metric for determining how a particular disease negatively impacts a population. Could you explain more?

J Worthington

Abortions play a major role in breast cancer. If a woman gets breast cancer, chances are she had an abortion 20-30 years ago. Few in the medical community want to admit this.

R.E.A.T.I. in reply to guest-nswmssa

Sure. I want to start by clarifying that that example doesn't completely invalidate the concept of lost years as a metric. Rather it complicates the picture in a way that makes the appropriateness of each comparison against general population mortality statistics more dubious.
The presence of many cancers tend to correlate with the presence of other ailments. These include but are not limited to: arthritis, cardiac disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc. The direction of causation isn't always one way or the other, both may be caused by a third factor, and it may occasionally just be the result of poor luck for the patient. These non-cancer, comorbid conditions (hereafter, NCCCs) by themselves have been demonstrated to reduce patient quality of life as well as life expectancy as compared to the general population.
If the NCCCs are not the directly a result of the cancer (i.e. no more cancer, no more NCCC) nor just randomly comorbid, then even the existence of a cure** for the relevant cancers would still leave cured (of the cancer) patients with shorter life expectancy compared to the general population. There's no reason to believe a priori that the life expectancy effects of male (prostate) or female (almost all breast) cancer patients' NCCCs are likely to balance in a similar manner as the general population. I don't have the data, I don't know if anyone has collected it, so it might be that it actually does. But it's also conceivable, for example, that the interplay of a genetic predisposition and some particular type of environmental stimuli makes a material (to the "years lost" calculation and comparison) number of women simultaneously susceptible to hypertension and breast cancer. Curing these womens' cancer wouldn't relieve their hypertension, and their hypertension makes them more likely (than the general population) to suffer a fatal stroke or cardiac issue. Therefore a "years lost" calculation that uses the general population as a baseline is not an unassailable method of comparison.
** The "years lost" strategy says, "in the absence of a cancer X, patients would live for Y more years." The "absence of cancer X" in all the people that are used to make this calculation would be functionally the same as finding a cure for cancer X. Therefore the "years lost" strategy asks, "How many people-years of life do we lose to cancer X because we don't have a cure?"


A callous article -- to justify what? Reducing funding for prostate cancer research? Increasing funding for breast cancer research? The author should try living with breast cancer or prostate cancer for a while. They might find that they would approach the topic quite differently.