Cancer treatment costs rise, affect Medicare

11 Jun 2008 by under News, Research/Treatment

There has been a lot in the news lately about the development of new drugs to treat mesothelioma. But with this boon comes a perhaps unforeseen complication – the increasing cost of treatment. A recent study conducted by the (NCI) and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicates that costs for treating patients with cancer has increased substantially from 1991-2002.

The article, which studied the cost of care for elderly cancer patients in the United States, used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare files to identify 718,907 cancer patients and 1,623,651 noncancer control subjects. Researchers estimated net costs of care for elderly cancer patients for the 18 most prevalent cancers and for all other tumor sites combined.

The study reports that costs of care were estimated for each phase by use of Medicare claims data from January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2003. They found that costs to Medicare were highest for lung, colorectal and prostate cancers.

An article in HealthDay News examining this latest report says study co-author Robin Yabroff attributes rising costs to a growing population of seniors in the U.S., as well as the inclusion of more prescription drugs in Medicare coverage. Yabroff is an epidemiologist at the U.S. NCI.

The report states that the number of patients receiving chemotherapy for lung, colorectal and breast cancer rose from 1991 to 2002, and that those increasing costs do not even reflect many of the newest, most expensive drugs now in use.

The HealthDay report quotes Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deupty chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, as saying that “the impact to Medicare is going to be substantial.” He goes on to say that the increasing costs for new drugs may actually prevent some patients from getting the treatment they need. Even if the drug is covered by Medicare, he says, the cost of the patient’s co-pay may be too high for them to afford it.

2 Responses to “Cancer treatment costs rise, affect Medicare”

  1. Jesmi

    Thanks for the great information–very helpful.

  2. Jesmi

    Thanks for the great information–very helpful.