Affordable Cancer Care Out of Reach in Developed Nations

"The burden of cancer is growing, and the disease is becoming a major economic expenditure for all developed countries."

This according to a The Lancet Oncology report by 37 experts from developed nations and institutions such as Duke University, UCLA, King's College, and the University of Oxford. About 12 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year with lost productivity estimated to be just under $1 trillion (USD). The cost of cancer care is becoming unsustainable due to such factors as huge development costs for new cancer medication and over-use of medical technologies such as imaging. Providing expensive chemotherapy to patients in the last few weeks of their lives with no clear medical benefit is also criticized.

Professor Richard Sullivan, MD, the lead author, said that the failure to manage costs could lead to a "train crash".

"The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates the costs associated with new cancer cases alone in 2009 to be at least $286 billion. Medical costs make up more than half the economic burden, and productivity losses account for nearly a quarter. By 2030, there will be an estimated 22 million new patients with cancer per year worldwide," he said. "The global challenge to countries is how to deliver reasonably priced cancer care to all citizens - i.e. make cancer care affordable to individuals and society."

The authors went on to say that "political toleration of unfairness in access to affordable cancer treatment is unacceptable. The cancer profession and industry should take responsibility and not accept a substandard evidence base and an ethos of very small benefit at whatever cost; rather, we need delivery of fair prices and real value from new technologies."

Sources:
Sullivan, Richard, et al. (09/2011). Delivering affordable cancer care in high-income countries. Retrieved from http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2811%2970141-3/fulltext
Delivering affordable cancer care in high-income countries: The Lancet Oncology Commission. (09/26/2011). Retrieved from http://www.exchangemagazine.com/morningpost/2011/week39/Monday/092601.htm
Gallagher, James. (09/26/2011). Cancer cost 'crisis' warning from oncologists. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15032862