Study finds that increased cancer spending in U.S. adds to life expectancy

A study in Health Affairs has found that although the U.S. spends more than other developed countries on healthcare, the cost may be worth it in the case of cancer, where U.S. patients outlived their European counterparts by almost two years. 

For the study, researchers examined survival data from cancer registries in the United States and Europe from 1983 – 1999 and then compared the additional cost of treating the U.S. patients to the additional years gained. 

The study found that the investment generated $598 billion of additional value for U.S. patients who were diagnosed with cancer between 1983 and 1999. The value of that additional survival gain was highest for prostate cancer patients ($627 billion) and breast cancer patients ($173 billion).  

The authors conclude that the higher-cost US system of cancer care delivery may be worth it, although the authors suggest that further research is needed to determine what specific treatments are driving improved cancer survival in the United States. 

(Sources: AHA News Now,, April 10, 2012, Health Affairs,, April 2012)