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Cancer Costs In The US Expected To Increase

January 13, 2011

According to a study released Wednesday, over the next 10 years the cost of treating cancer in the U.S. is expected to leap 27 percent, in part because of the growing population of elderly Americans.

The study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said that the changes are anticipated even though cancer has been on the decline because of earlier diagnoses and improved survival rates among cancer patients.

The research by the government’s National Institutes of Health said that medical expenditures on cancer will reach $158 billion in 2020, a jump of 27 percent over 2010, and could go as high as $207 billion if treatment costs continue to rise.

“The rising costs of cancer care illustrate how important it is for us to advance the science of cancer prevention and treatment to ensure that we’re using the most effective approaches,” Robert Croyle, director of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute, told AFP.

“This is especially important for elderly cancer patients with other complex health problems.”

Since cancer affects more people over the age of 65, a growth in that sector of the population is a major reason why costs are anticipated to rise.

The researchers said that the number of elderly people in the U.S. is forecasted to go from $40 million in 2009 to $70 million in 2030.

However, the costs of caring for cancer have also risen in combination with medical breakthroughs that keep people alive for longer periods.

“If cancer incidence and survival rates remain stable, the number of cancer survivors in 2020 will increase by 31 percent, to about 18.1 million,” said the study, which appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study said last year that cancer costs totaled $127.6 billion.

The highest costs were associated with breast cancer at $16.5 billion, followed by colorectal cancer at $14 billion, then lymphoma, lung cancer and prostate cancer each costing $12 billion annually.

Every year about half a million people in the U.S. die of cancer, which causes one in four deaths and is also the second leading cause of death after heart disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 11 million people in the U.S. were living with cancer in 2007.

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