KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Finds The Cost of Cancer Care Is Skyrocketing

USA Today: "The cost of cancer treatment is 'skyrocketing' - both for individual patients and the nation, a new analysis shows. From 1990 to 2008, spending on cancer care soared to more than $90 billion from $27 billion. The increase was driven by the rising costs of sophisticated new drugs, robotic surgeries and radiation techniques, as well as the growing number of patients who are eligible to take them, says Peter Bach of New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Cancer, co-author of an analysis in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. Many older, frailer patients - who might not have been considered strong enough to weather traditional surgery - now have the option to have less invasive operations or more tightly focused radiation treatments, the analysis says" (Szabo, 3/16).

The Seattle Times / Bloomberg: "The rising cost of cancer research and care, which helped reduce death rates by 16 percent over 40 years, is straining the U.S. health system and needs to be restrained, commentators said in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. ... In one survey cited in the journal, almost a quarter of respondents with health insurance said they used most or all of their savings during treatment for the disease" (3/16).

HealthDay News: "New chemotherapy agents for metastatic colon cancer improve patient survival but are costly, says a new study. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta analyzed data from 4,665 patients, aged 66 and older, diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer between 1995 and 2005. Compared to those who received older chemotherapy agents, patients who received one or more of the six chemotherapy agents approved in the United States between 1996 and 2004 lived an average of 6.8 months longer. That increase in survival was associated with a lifetime cost increase of $37,100, which equates to $66,200 per year of life gained" (3/16). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.