Careening Cancer Costs Raise Difficult Questions

Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:23 AM EDT

Soaring cancer-care costs around the globe mean many modern treatments have become unaffordable to many patients, according to oncology experts.
The medical journal Lancet Oncology reported the explosion of new technologies to address the disease, coupled with a climb in cancer cases, are to blame for higher costs.
Some of the new treatments lead to a “very small benefit at whatever cost,” the medical journal said. “There should be fair prices and real value from new technologies.”
Difficult questions need to be addressed in order to deal with the dilemma, the journal said. In other words, are new treatments worth the higher costs?
“We are at a crossroads for affordable cancer care, where our choices — or refusal to make choices — will affect the lives of millions of people,” said Richard Sullivan, who led the report and presented it recently at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm, Sweden. “Do we bury our heads in the sand, keep our fingers crossed, and hope that it turns out fine, or do we have difficult debates and make hard choices?”
An estimated 12 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, the report found. That number is expected to more than double within 20 years.
The medical care cost of new global cancer cases amounts to $286 billion annually.
Sullivan said some of the latest experimental drugs unveiled in Stockholm can total tens of thousands of dollars per patient. He said a treatment for prostate cancer called Dendreon’s Provenge exceeds $100,000 for a three-dose course and improves patient-survival rates by several months.
“How should we determine its value?” the report asked.

© HealthDay

Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:23 AM
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