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Health care costs for cancer to jump at least 27 percent in 10 years
By Insure.com staff

Health care costs for cancer will reach $158 billion in 2020, a 27 percent increase over 2010, and could go as high as $207 billion, according to a new National Cancer Institute (NCI) analysis.

Researchers based projections on the most recent data available on cancer incidence, survival and cost of care, as well as on the projected growth and aging of the U.S. population. Projected increases do not include inflation.

2010 cancer costs

Medical costs associated with cancer totaled an estimated $124.6 billion in 2010, NCI said.

The five most costly cancers:

  1. Breast cancer, $16.5 billion
  2. Colorectal cancer, $14 billion
  3. Lymphoma, $12 billion
  4. Lung cancer, $12 billion
  5. Prostate cancer, $12 billion

Development of new technologies and treatments could boost costs to $173 billion in 2020 if costs increased 2 percent annually in the initial and final phases of care, mirroring recent trends, and to $207 billion if costs rose 5 percent annually.

"Rising health care costs pose a challenge for policy makers charged with allocating future resources on cancer research, treatment and prevention," said Angela Mariotto, the study's author, in a statement. "Because it is difficult to anticipate future developments of cancer control technologies and their impact on the burden of cancer, we evaluated a variety of possible scenarios."

Rising costs drive up health insurance premiums and make it more difficult for consumers to find affordable health insurance.

Researchers estimate there were 13.8 million cancer survivors in 2010, 58 percent of whom were age 65 or older. If cancer incidence and survival rates remain stable, the number of cancer survivors will increase by 31 percent to about 18.1 million by 2020, the NCI analysis said. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

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