WSJ - Cancer-Care Costs Could Hit $207 Billion in 2020: NCI Study | Friends of Cancer Research

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WSJ - Cancer-Care Costs Could Hit $207 Billion in 2020: NCI Study

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute have new estimates of U.S. cancer-cost growth over the next decade, and they paint a financially scary picture.

A study published online by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimates that medical spending on cancer hit about $125 billion last year. (The projections were based on cost data from 2006.) Assuming no changes to cancer trends except that there will be more people with the disease due to the aging population, costs will jump 27% to $158 billion in 2020.

That increase is influenced by a projected rise in the number of prostate- and breast-cancer patients.

But assuming there will be no change in cost trends may not be correct, since new targeted treatments and diagnostics are likely to be more expensive than what’s now available, the researchers said.

Assuming 2% and 5% yearly increases in the cost of care produces 2020 estimates of $173 billion and $207 billion respectively. (Or 10-year cost increases of 39% and 66%.)

Those costs “might be mitigated somewhat through the use of genomic based prognostic markers” to more accurately match therapies with those likely to respond, the authors write.

Other studies have projected smaller increases, but researchers said these estimates were based on more recent data and included an analysis of how much various forms of the disease cost in different phases — for people who die from cancer, the highest costs are incurred just after diagnosis and then just before death.

Statistical modeling, of course, depends on the assumptions used by the researchers — so check out the full study to see those details. And here’s an interactive tool that allows you to change some of the assumptions.