A report on the management of cancer costs by 37 cancer experts (economists, patient advocates and doctors) from developed countries (USA, UK, Germany, Australia) was published in the Lancet oncology on 26 September. The study highlights the need for a sensible medication for a patient with terminal cancer.
Professor Richard Sullivan of the Integrated Cancer Center of King’s Health Partners, London, presented the study at the European Multidisciplinary Congress on Cancer in Stockholm.
The contributions of drug manufacturers, payers and educators will be key to future discussions, said David Collingridge, the magazine’s editor.
“With the aging global population and the endless bar of expensive new drugs and technologies and growing financial pressures, the cost of cancer care in high-income countries is becoming unsustainable.“, Said the Lancet oncology.
Developed countries have different levels of GDP for health, but the rate of cancer treatment costs is between four and seven in most countries.
About 12 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the cost of new cases was at least $ 286 billion in 2009, according to the report. By 2030, about 22 million people will be diagnosed with the disease each year. More than half of the $ 286 billion in spending is related to treatment, while a quarter is related to loss of productivity.
In the UK, around 310,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year and this is expected to increase to 400,000 by 2030. The National Health Service spends more than £ 5 billion a year on cancer treatment, up from £ 3 billion in 2002. .
“All health systems are facing budget constraints, while the burden and cost of cancer is rising sharply. Every cancer patient, now and in the future, must have fair access to quality cancer care and innovation. This can only be protected through transparent and evidence-based analysis and policy development“, Said Professor Michael Baumann, President of the European Cancer Organization, ECCO.
Cancer experts have criticized a “surplus culture” that gives false hopes to patients with terminal cancer.
“In developed countries, cancer treatment is becoming a culture of surplus. We diagnose too much, overdo the treatment and promise. This ranges from the use of sophisticated technology, surgery and drugs to events related to the acceptance of side effects from treatment.. “said cancer experts.
They stressed the importance of choosing the right strategy for treating terminal cancer patients. The life-prolonging drug should not be used as it shows no benefits for terminal cancer and has dangerous side effects.
“Special attention should be paid to the cost of end-of-life cancer treatment. Many forms of cancer are currently incurable and patients will eventually die from their disease. “
“In fact, studies show that a significant part of the total cost of cancer care is for care provided in the last weeks or days of life, and that much of this care is useless and potentially incompatible with patients’ desires.. “
“If we could predict exactly when further treatment for the disease would be useless, we would clearly want to save the patient the toxicity and false hopes associated with such treatment, as well as the costs.. “
The researchers said a more rigorous assessment of the relative benefits of surgery to treat cancer and less invasive robotic surgery should be made.
Reduce the cost of cancer services or reduce the number of people who use them, especially terminal cancer patients are the two ways suggested by the authors to solve the problem.
The best treatment for cancer would be to save the rich, because it would be too expensive for the health service, warned Professor Carol Sikora, one of the 37 cancer experts, last week.
Molecular biomarkers can be used to pre-screen patients for treatment, and imaging methods should be used to select only those patients who could benefit from treatment. Early research can also help eliminate extremely effective or ineffective drugs more quickly, researchers say.
“We are at a crossroads for affordable cancer care, where our choices or refusals to make choices will affect the lives of millions of people. Increasing the sensitivity of individual patients to the costs of care is necessary for an informed public debate on this critical issue.”Said Professor Richard Sullivan.
Diagnosis and treatment of cancer have become more complex, with imaging, surgery, radiation and drug therapy. Professionals need to come together and discuss with patients, insurers and industry players the best ways to cut costs without compromising on care, they said.