The cost of treating cancer in developed countries is growing at an unsustainable pace

The cost of cancer treatment in developed countries is growing at a rapid and unsustainable pace, according to an article in The Lancet Oncology.

According to the article, in 2009, the cost of cancer care worldwide is estimated to be $286 billion.  By 2030, it is estimated that there will be 27 million new cancer patients worldwide. 

Several factors are adding to the expense of cancer treatment:

  • New technology and treatments can benefit some patients, but they are expensive, and sometimes are marginally more effective than the older treatment.
  • There are more cancer cases worldwide than ever before, and that number is growing.
  • Overutilization of treatments for patients for whom there will likely be little benefit, and of technology.
  • Futile medical treatments at the end of life rather than palliative care.

The authors conclude that a radical shift in cancer policy is needed in order to control costs.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, October 4, 2011; The Lancet Oncology,, September 2011)