National Cancer-Attributed Medical Care Costs in US Anticipated to Increase Sizably by 2030

June 11, 2020

Due to population changes alone, researchers indicated national cancer-attributed medical care costs in the US are considerable and predicted to increase dramatically by the year 2030.

A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggested that, due to population changes alone, national cancer-attributed medical care costs in the US are already sizable and forecasted to increase dramatically by the year 2030.1

According to the researchers, these findings reflect the rising burden of cancer care among cancer survivors.

“Rising health care expenditures are a burden for patients, and costs of cancer care has become a critical topic in patient-provider discussions to facilitate informed decision-making,” study author Angela Mariotto, PhD, chief of the Data Analytics Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, said in a press release.2 “Studies quantifying and projecting costs can further facilitate those discussions. In addition, this type of research can help health policymakers better understand the issue of rising costs and can help healthcare providers better plan resource allocation.”

Utilizing the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database, investigators identified survivors aged ≥65 years diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2012. Additionally, 2007 and 2013 claims were used to estimate costs by cancer site, phases of care, and stage at diagnosis.

Annualized average cancer attributable costs for medical care and oral prescription drugs were estimated by subtracting costs between patients with cancer and matched controls. Controls were matched by sex, age to the nearest year, race, and calendar year, along with other factors, and cost estimates were inflated to reflect 2019 US dollars.

Overall, annualized average costs were found to be greatest for patients in the end-of-life cancer death phase, followed by the initial and continuing phases (medical care: $105,500, $41,800, and $5300; oral prescription drugs: $4200, $1800, $1100, respectively). Specifically, annualized cancer-attributable medical costs by cancer site in the end-of-life phase ranged from $71,300 for those with prostate cancer to $239,400 for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In addition, cancer-attributable annualized average oral prescription drug costs in this phase ranged from $600 for those with cervical and uterine cancer to $24,000 for those with myeloma.

“In this study, we found that the costs in the end-of-life phase of care were higher than those in the initial phase of care, and costs were highest among those initially diagnosed with advanced disease,” study author Robin Yabroff, PhD, senior scientific director of Health Services Research at the American Cancer Society, said in a press release. “These results suggest that further research is needed to better understand the value and appropriateness of treatment intensity, especially among patients with advanced disease.”

“There is also a need to ensure that expected costs of care are included in patient-provider discussions about treatment options, and that informed decisions can be made that fully reflect patients’ preferences,” Yabroff continued.

Even further, it was estimated that national costs for cancer-related medical services and oral prescription drugs in 2015 were $165 billion and $18 billion, respectively, totaling $183 billion. Strictly based on population growth, the national costs were predicted to increase 34% to $246 billion by 2030.

“Patient-provider discussions about treatment options should include not only expected survival, quality of life implications, and potential adverse events, but also expected costs of care for different treatments,” noted Yabroff. “For patients with cancer who are working, these discussions should address how treatment affects the ability to work, especially if the patient’s health insurance coverage is through their employer.”

References:

1. Mariotto AB, Enewold L, Zhao J, Zeruto CA, Yabroff KR. Medical Care Costs Associated with Cancer Survivorship in the United States. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1534.

2. Cancer Care Costs in the United States Are Projected to Exceed $245 Billion by 2030 [news release]. Philadelphia. Published June 10, 2020. aacr.org/about-the-aacr/newsroom/news-releases/cancer-care-costs-in-the-united-states-are-projected-to-exceed-245-billion-by-2030/. Accessed June 10, 2020.