Our aging population casts a shadow over how much cancer care will cost in the future. A lot.
The approximately 21.5 million new cases of cancer projected to be diagnosed worldwide in 2030 will cost a total of $458 billion in direct and indirect costs, a 58% increase over the $290 billion in cancer-related costs in 2010, according to a study by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). In the United States, direct costs of cancer care were nearly $125 billion in 2010, and those costs will climb by 20% to over $150 billion by 2020, according to the AACR, which lobbies for cancer research funding. Cancer is primarily a disease of aging.
Costs in billions of 2010 US dollars
*Direct costs include the costs of medical procedures and services associated with treatment and care. Indirect costs include lost productivity resulting from treatment or disability.
The number of Americans older than 65 is expected to double by 2060, ratcheting cancer incidence up year by year along the way. The same is happening on a global scale with cancer incidence increasing because of population growth and the distribution skewing toward older age groups.
But it’s not just demographics. Lifestyle also plays a significant role in cancer causation, the AACR report notes, so smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity will also be nudging cancer rates up in the years to come.
Contribution to cancer incidence
Source: Cancer Progress Report 2015, American Association for Cancer Research, Sept. 16, 2015.