Is High Spending on Cancer Care Worth It?

Cancer patients in the U.S who were diagnosed from 1995 to 1999 lived an average 11.1 years after that, compared with 9.3 years for those in 10 countries in Europe according to a report from the journal of Health Affairs. By 1999, the U.S was spending an average of $70,000 per cancer case (up 49% since 1983), compared with $44,000 in Europe (up 16%). Researchers concluded that the value of the U.S survival gains outweighted the cost by an average $61,000 per case, thus, the greater spending on cancer care in the United States, they conclude, is therefore worth it.

In the new analysis, the survival gains in U.S compared with Europe were greater for prostate cancer, at more than triple the gains for breast cancer. For melanoma and colorectal and uterine cancer, survival gains over the period analyzed were greater in Europe. Breast cancer mortality fell 36% in the UK from 1990 to 2006, and fell 30% among whites in the U.S.

Cancer mortality in the U.S is higher than in 11 countries reporting to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and lower than the rate in 14 others. Mortality is lower in Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, and Finland, but higher in Hungary, Slovenia, France, and Britain.

U.S spending on cancer care has continued to increase, reaching $72 billion in 2004.


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