Cancer costs to reach at least $173B in 2020

Cost of cancer by phases of care ($ billions)

When cost and disability are taken into account, cancer was third highest, behind heart conditions and trauma (mainly vehicular accidents and violent incidents), according to a Health Affairs article that ranked the 10 costliest conditions to treat in the United States.

The National Cancer Institute says cancer care expenditures have been steadily increasing in the United States, especially as new, more advanced, and more expensive treatments are adopted as standards of care.

A recent projection from the National Institutes of Health based on changes in the population and cancer trends suggests that medical expenditures for cancer by 2020 will reach $173 billion (in 2010 dollars). That’s an increase of 35 percent over 2010 costs, which were $127.6 billion. The types of cancer on which the nation spends the most are breast ($16.5 billion), colorectal ($14 billion), lymphoma ($12 billion), lung ($12 billion), and prostate ($12 billion).

The projection assumes a 2 percent annual increase in medical costs in initial and final phases of care. A more aggressive increase of 5 percent raises the estimate to $207 billion.

The financial costs of cancer don’t just affect the patient, but the whole family and society as a whole.

“These data show how important it is to patients for our nation to get serious about health care costs,” says Susan Pisano, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Source: National Institutes of Health and Druss BG, Marcus SC, Olfson M, Pincus HA. The most expensive medical conditions in America. Health Aff. 2002; 21(4):105–111

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