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May 10, 2010

Cost of treating cancer doubled over two decades

We hear a lot about pricey new cancer drugs driving up the cost of treating the disease, but a new study suggests meds aren't the sole reason for soaring treatment costs.

The research, published today in the journal Cancer, finds the cost of treating cancer doubled over the last two decades with  more people getting treated for the disease helping to drive that cost.

The total cost of treating cancer in the U.S. in 1987 was $24.7 billion (in 2007 dollars), compared with $48.1 billion a year during 2001-2005, according to the research compiled by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that cost kept in line with the rapid rise in health care spending. Cancer treatment as a percentage of overall medical treatment has stayed steady at about 5 percent for the past two decades.

In addition, as treatment shifts from inpatient to outpatient care, commercial insurers and Medicaid are picking up a greater share of the tab, the study finds.

That's not to discount the exorbitant cost of new cancer drugs. Consider this story from the NYT about prohibitively expensive cancer treatments that leads with a new chemo medication that costs $30,000. You read that right -- 30K.

And heard of Provenge? The prostate cancer vaccine that recently won FDA approval? That's expected to cost a mere $93,000.

Posted by Kelly Brewington at 12:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cancer

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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