How Much Will Cancer Care Costs Increase by 2020? From 2010 to 2020, costs are expected to rise by 31% overall and by 42% for people 65.

The costs of cancer care in the U.S. are expected to increase rapidly, in part as a consequence of an aging population and novel diagnostic and therapeutic developments. However, such projections might be out of date, given recent changes in cancer incidence, survival, and patterns of care.
Now, investigators from the National Cancer Institute have drawn on the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program data to estimate cancer prevalence and have used SEER–Medicare linkage data to estimate future annualized net costs of care. Patients were classified according to site of first cancer diagnosis from 1975 to 2005. Projections of prevalence were classified according to three phases of care: the initial year after diagnosis, the last year of life, and the period in between. Between 390,000 and 927,000 cancer patients were included for each phase, and each patient was matched with up to 5 controls by sex, age, and location.
Assuming constant incidence, survival, and costs, the investigators estimated that the following changes will occur from 2010 to 2020:
The number of cancer survivors will increase overall by 31% (from 13.8 million to 18.1 million) and among people 65 or older by 42% (from 8.0 million to 11.4 million). The overall associated costs of cancer care will increase by 26% (from $125 billion to $158 billion, in adjusted 2010 U.S. dollars).
The largest projected increases in costs will be in the continuing phase of care for patients with prostate cancer (42%) and breast cancer (32%).
However, if costs of care increase annually by 2% in the initial and last year of life phases of care, the total cost in 2020 is projected to be $173 billion, which represents a 39% increase from 2010.

CONCLUSIONS: The national cost of cancer care is substantial and expected to increase because of population changes alone. Our findings have implications for policy makers in planning and allocation of resources.

Mariotto AB, Yabroff KR, Shao Y, Feuer EJ, Brown ML. Projections of the cost of cancer care in the United States: 2010–2020. J Natl Cancer Inst 2011 Jan 19; 103:117.

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