Cancer costs continue long after disease goes away

Even if a case of cancer goes into remission, the patient may still have huge bills for years, if not decades, to come, according to a study that will be published in the May issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Cancer survivors are facing high costs even after years. The economic burden is substantial," study author Zhiyuan Zheng, senior health services researcher at the American Cancer Society, told HealthDay.

Researchers reviewed 3,000 cancer patient surveys conducted between 2008 and 2012, and compared them to another 100,000 surveys of non-cancer patients. They found that:

  • Non-elderly colon cancer survivors have annual costs of about $19,000 per year
  • Breast cancer survivors under the age of 65 faced bills totalling about $14,000 per year
  • Prostate cancer survivors have bills of $9,000 per year

Those totals not only included the cost of follow-up care and maintenance, but also lost productivity, according to the article.

For straight medical costs, colon cancer survivors spent about $8,600 per year; breast cancer survivors spent about $5,100 per year; and for prostate cancer survivors, about $3,600 per year.

Those costs are already piled on top of what cancer patients have to pay for their treatment. Due to escalating cost sharing and drug prices, it is not uncommon for even insured patients to have to shell out $100,000 or more to cover the tab for their care.

Even among those Americans who have the good fortune not to be victims of cancer, paying for their healthcare was one of their top concerns last year, according to a poll by Gallup.

To learn more:
- read the HealthDay article