Economic cost of cancer mortality is high in US, regardless of how cost is measured

December 09, 2008

The economic cost of death due to cancer is high in the United States, regardless of whether researchers estimate the economic impact in lost work productivity or in a more global measure using the value of one year of life, according to two studies published online December 9 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers can estimate the economic burden of cancer mortality in terms of lost years of work (the human capital approach) or using the willingness-to-pay approach, which calculates the impact based on how much people would pay to gain one additional year of life ($150,000 based on prior studies in the U.S.).

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the economic impact of cancer mortality, Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., of the Health Services and Economics Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues used the willingness-to-pay approach, while Cathy J. Bradley, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Va., and colleagues used the human capital approach.

In 2000, cancer deaths cost the United States $115.8 billion in lost productivity, Bradley reports. That estimate jumped to $147.6 billion for 2020, due to changes in the population size and age. An annual 1 percent reduction in mortality, compared with current trends from leukemia and lung, breast, colorectal, pancreatic, and brain cancer, would reduce the estimate by $814 million per year. When Bradley and colleagues included the value of caregiving and household duties lost, as well as regular wage earning jobs, the cost of cancer mortality more than doubled to $232.4 billion in 2000 and $308 billion for 2020.

The estimates were even larger when Yabroff and colleagues used the willingness-to-pay approach. In that case, the cost of cancer mortality was $960.7 billion in 2000 and was predicted to be $1,472.5 billion in 2020. An annual decrease in mortality of 2 percent reduced the projected cost of breast cancer mortality from $121.0 billion in 2020 to $80.7 billion, of colorectal cancer from $140.1 billion to $93.5 billion, for lung cancer from $433.4 billion to $289.4 billion, and for prostate cancer from $58.4 billion to $39.0 billion.

Lung cancer alone accounted for 25 percent or more of the costs in the two models.

"Regardless of the method used to estimate the societal value of premature deaths, these mortality costs are an important component of the burden of disease," write Yabroff and colleagues. Moreover, Bradley and colleagues note that the cost of cancer mortality is high when compared with other diseases, such as diabetes or influenza.

"Decision makers can use the information we provide as a basis to assess the costs of inter¬ventions relative to their benefits to determine how to best allocate resources among these strategies," write Bradley and colleagues. "From a productivity loss perspec¬tive, investments in programs that reduce lung, breast, colorectal, leukemia, and/or pancreatic cancer mortality are likely to yield the largest annual reduction in productivity costs for US society."

In an accompanying editorial, Scott Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle notes that both papers provide important, but somewhat incomplete, estimates of the cost of cancer. Despite the limitation, the numbers provide important information that can help policy makers. For example, he points out that by either measure the current investment in cancer research in the United States is low. "Clearly, these two studies suggest that the value of that information far exceeds our research investment (the National Cancer Institute's budget for 2008 is about $4.8 billion)," he writes.

"As a tool for advocacy, dollar values can be powerful, particularly when they are weighed against other programs that influence human life and health under limited budgets," he concludes.
-end-

Contacts: Citations:Note to Reporters:

We have started up an e-mail list to alert reporters when papers are available on the EurekAlert site. If you would be interested on being on this list, please let us know at jncimedia@oxfordjournals.org. The content will continue to be available through EurekAlert's e-mail system and our EurekAlert page.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage. Visit the Journal online at http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.