April 29, 2008 -- Medicare costs for cancer are expected to reach
$21 billion dollars for five years of care.
That's according to the latest data from the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers found that when it comes to paying for cancer care, the price tag
may depend on the cancer type, the phase of care, the stage of diagnosis, and
whether the patient survives.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute compiled data on about
700,000 people diagnosed with cancer and over a million people without cancer
using a national health database and Medicare claims records.
The study examined 18 types of cancer and looked at the how much money was
spent on care during certain phases among people who had been diagnosed during
1973-2003 and were 65 or older at some time between 1999 through 2003.
Researchers used the comparison group of people without cancer to project
the per patient cost of cancer care. They also used this information to
estimate the five-year cost of cancer care in the Medicare population who were
newly diagnosed with cancer in 2004.
The study looked at the care of each patient in these three phases:
Initial phase -- the year after being diagnosed.
Last-year-of-life phase -- the final 12 months before death.
Continuing phase -- all the time between the initial and last phases.
Here are some of the findings:
For those over age 65 diagnosed in 2004, it's projected that the cost of
cancer care to Medicare over five years is $21.1 billion. The aggregate costs
were greatest for lung
cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate
The most money was estimated to be spent on the initial and last
The lowest amount of money was estimated to be spent in the continuing
phase of cancer care.
Looking at cancer types individually:
Brain and other nervous system cancers were the most costly for men across
the board at each phase of care.
For women, brain and other nervous system cancers were the most expensive
for the initial and last-year-of-life phase.