Higher US cancer spending linked to better survival

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that the high costs of US cancer care may be “worth it,” according to research published in the journal Health Affairs.

Investigators “mined extensive databases to compare cancer treatment costs and cancer survival data in the US with those in 10 countries that represend 36% of the population of the European Union: Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, as well as Scotland and Wales, which are part of the United Kingdom.”

The NPR “Shots” blog reports that during the study period, “US spending on cancer care grew 49 percent (in 2010 dollars). By comparison, spending in the 10 European countries included in the study grew by 16 percent.”

The Kaiser Health News “Capsules” blog reports that the researchers found that “from 1995 to 1999, US patients lived an average of 11.1 years after diagnosis, while European patients lived 9.3 years.”

HealthDay reports, “When the authors translated survival data to dollars, they found those extra years were worth $598 billion, which is an average of $61,000 per cancer patient.” The study found that “the value of these survival gains was highest for prostate cancer ($627 billion) and breast cancer ($173 billion).”

Reuters reports, however, that some experts were critical of the study. For instance, Dr. Don Berry of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston called the study “pure folly.”

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