New research by Cancer Council NSW has revealed the cost of cancer to Australia’s health services: the study found that in 2013, the cost among Australians diagnosed during 2009-2013 was around $6.3billion. The largest costs were associated with bowel cancer ($1.1billion), breast cancer ($0.8billion), lung cancer ($0.6billion) and prostate cancer ($0.5billion).
“Cancer care represents a substantial and rapidly rising healthcare cost in Australia, as the number of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia is rising due to an ageing and increasing population, and because of lifestyle and environmental factors,” said Professor Karen Canfell, Director of Research at Cancer Council NSW.
The researchers analysed participants with cancer who were diagnosed between 2006 and 2010 and followed them until 2014. The study was designed to estimate excess costs of cancer care by cancer type, before and after diagnosis and by phase of care.
“We compared 7624 participants diagnosed with cancer to similar people who didn’t have cancer,” Professor Canfell explained.
“The average excess cost of care per case was AUD$1,622 for the year before diagnosis, $33,944 for the first year post-diagnosis and $8,796 for the second year post-diagnosis, with considerable variation by cancer type.”
After the initial treatment phase, the average cost per case dropped to $4,474 per year, rising to $49,733 during the last year of life.
Costs are likely to have increased even further over the last few years as a range of expensive new targeted therapies and immunotherapies have been approved for cancer treatment in Australia. The analysis also did not capture the substantial treatment costs that patients pay themselves.
This is the first comprehensive piece of research on the cost of all cancers in Australia, from diagnosis through to end of life, using information from real patients and including all related health services costs. Previous cancer costing studies have focused on specific cancer types in limited geographical locations, or on certain sources of costs (e.g. chemotherapy costs or end-of-life care).
“Our findings emphasise the economic importance of effective cancer prevention strategies,” Professor Canfell said.
“The cost of cancer care in Australia is increasing rapidly. We need these data to prioritise future healthcare funding, assess the cost-effectiveness of strategies to reduce the impact of cancer, and plan for future costs,” she concluded.
The paper, Health services costs for cancer care in Australia: Estimates from the 45 and Up Study is available to view online in full here.
Source: Cancer Council NSW