National Projections: 27% Rise in Cost of Cancer Care in 2020

April 2011, Vol 2, No 2 - In the Literature


The constant change in the incidence of cancer, the rate of survival, and treatment practices have led investigators to estimate anew the cost of cancer care in the United States (which is currently based on 2003 estimates). In this new analysis (Mariotto AB, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011;103: 1-12), investigators used projections based on phase of cancer care and tumor sites for 13 cancer types in men and 16 types in women between 2010 and 2020.

The prevalence rate was based on Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program data. Net annual costs were estimated from recent Medicare-SEER claims through 2006. All costs were adjusted to 2010 dollars. Sensitivity analysis was used to assess future trends of cancer rates and costs.

Cancer survivorship numbers are 13.8 million in 2010 compared with 18.1 million in 2020; associated costs for cancer are $124.57 billion in 2010, $157.77 billion in 2020—a 27% increase in costs. The largest increases involve the continuing phase of care for prostate cancer (42%) and breast cancer in women (32%). If the costs increase by 2% in the first year of cancer care and last year of life, overall 2020 cancer costs will total $173 billion, a 39% increase from 2010.

The costs for the top 5 cancer types in 2010 were:

  • Female breast: $16.50 billion
  • Colorectal: $14.14 billion
  • Lymphoma: $12.14 billion
  • Lung: $12.12 billion
  • Prostate: $11.85 billion