Medical costs of prostate cancer estimated at $12 billion in 2010

January 27, 2011

Medical costs associated with prostate cancer were estimated at $12 billion in 2010, making it the third costliest type of cancer, according to a National Institutes of Health analysis.

Medical costs associated with prostate cancer were estimated at $12 billion in 2010, making it the third costliest type of cancer, according to a National Institutes of Health analysis.

Based on growth and aging of the U.S. population, medical expenditures for cancer in 2020 are projected to reach at least $158 billion, an increase of 27% over 2010, say researchers from the National Cancer Institute, who reported their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2011; 103:117-28).

If newly developed tools for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up continue to be more expensive, medical expenditures for cancer could reach as high as $207 billion.

The projections were based on the most recent data available on cancer incidence, survival, and costs of care. In 2010, medical costs associated with cancer were projected to reach $124.6 billion, with the highest costs associated with breast cancer ($16.5 billion), followed by colorectal cancer ($14 billion), prostate cancer ($12 billion), lymphoma ($12 billion), and lung cancer ($12 billion).

"Rising health care costs pose a challenge for policy makers charged with allocating future resources on cancer research, treatment, and prevention," said first author Angela Mariotto, PhD, of NCI’s Surveillance Research Program. "Because it is difficult to anticipate future developments of cancer control technologies and their impact on the burden of cancer, we evaluated a variety of possible scenarios."

To project national cancer expenditures, the researchers combined cancer prevalence with average annual costs of care by age (less than 65 years or 65 years and older). According to their prevalence estimates, there were 13.8 million cancer survivors alive in 2010, 58% of whom were age 65 years or older. If cancer incidence and survival rates remain stable, the number of cancer survivors in 2020 will increase by 31%, to about 18.1 million.

Because of the aging of the U.S. population, the researchers expect the largest increase in cancer survivors over the next 10 years to be among Americans age 65 years and older.