Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Cancer costs 'set to rise by 62%'

The UK's ageing population could see the cost of cancer treatment soar by two thirds over the next 10 years, a report suggests

The cost of diagnosing and treating cancer patients may rise by nearly two thirds over the next decade, a report has found.

Healthcare analysts Laing & Buisson warned that cancer survival rates in the UK could fall behind other developed nations because diagnosis and treatment costs are likely to increase by 62%, from £9.4 billion in 2010 to £15.3 billion by 2021.

It will mean that the average cost of treating someone diagnosed with cancer will go from £30,000 in 2010 to almost £40,000 in 2021.

The Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: A 2021 Projection report, carried out for private healthcare firm Bupa, says: "If we do not address the rising cost of cancer, we are unlikely to be able to afford the desired and expected level of cancer diagnosis and treatment over the next 10 years and beyond.

"This possibility will mean that the UK's cancer survival rate could fall even further behind that of other developed countries."

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed last month that the UK is lagging behind other countries on average survival rates for breast, bowel and cervical cancer.

The predicted leap in costs would come largely as a result of Britain's ageing population, which is predicted to lead to a 20% growth in cancer rates by 2021. An increase in the cost of technology and treatments used to combat the disease will also be a contributing factor.

Professor Karol Sikora, medical director of Cancer Partners UK, said: "Ironically, the reasons behind this dramatic increase in costs are a cause for celebration. Cancer is predominantly a disease of older people and because of the advances of modern medicine, many more are living in good health well beyond retirement.

"This trend is set to continue so cancer incidence will inevitably rise. Fortunately, when cancer does strike, we now have powerful new technologies available to gradually turn cancer into a chronic, controllable disease like diabetes. However, the rising numbers and the advent of innovation come with a hefty price tag."

But a Department of Health spokesman said: "We do not recognise these figures. Over the past five years expenditure on cancer has grown no faster than costs for the NHS as a whole. This has been achieved despite increasing numbers and the introduction of new drugs and is a good example of how the NHS is working more efficiently as part of plans to save up to £20 billion by 2015.

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