Hospitals burdened with skyrocketing cancer costs

Global spending on cancer care is continuing to shoot through the roof, with the escalating cost likely to prove more burdensome to U.S. hospitals, reports CBS News.

A new report by the Lancet Oncology Commission estimated that the global cost for treating cancer approached $900 billion in 2008. The U.S. spends about $110 billion, according to the National Cancer Institute, but that is expected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2020 and reach $158 billion.

Various factors are to blame for cancer care, including drugs that can cost $100,000 for a short regimen and may only prolong a patient's life for a few months.

"We are at a crossroads for affordable cancer care, where our choices--or refusal to make choices--will affect the lives of millions of people," said study author Dr. Richard Sullivan. "Do we bury our heads in the sand, keep our fingers crossed, and hope that it turns out fine, or do we have difficult debates and make hard choices within a socially responsible, cost-effective, and sustainable framework?"

Among other reforms, the study suggested that the public be better informed about how much it costs to treat cancer.

For more information:
- read the CBS News article
- read the Lancet Oncology article summary