Medical costs for cancer expected to rise

Medical expenditures for cancer in the year 2020 are projected to reach at least $158 billion, an increase of 27 percent over 2010, according to a National Institutes of Health analysis.

The analysis was based a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and examines the most recent data available on cancer incidence, survival, and costs of care.

Key findings:

  • NCI projects that the number of U.S. residents diagnosed with cancer will rise primarily because of an increase in the number of residents ages 65 and older.
  • NIH estimates that the cost of treating cancer patients in 2020 will be at least $158 billion without inflation; adjusting for annual inflation of 2%, the cost would increase to $173 billion, and a 5% annual inflation raise would raise the cost to $207 billion.
  • The highest cancer costs in 2009 were associated with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer and prostate cancer. 

(Sources: National Institutes of Health Press Release,, January 12, 2011; National Cancer Institute Study,, December, 2010; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, January 14, 2011)