Cancer HC Statistics Medicare

The cost of cancer care: Examining four common cancers

An interesting study by Chen et al. (2017) examines the cost of cancer care among Medicare patients.  Using SEER-Medicare data of people diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2011, they found:

Over the year of diagnosis, mean per-patient annual Medicare spending varied substantially by cancer type: $35,849 for breast cancer, $26,295 for prostate cancer, $55,597 for lung cancer, and $63,063 for colorectal cancer. More advanced stage at diagnosis was associated with higher annual spending for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer…Over the year of death, mean per-patient annual spending was more consistent across cancer types: Breast cancer patients had an average of $61,429 in annual spending, compared to prostate ($62,351), lung ($59,912), and colorectal ($72,883).

In what care setting did the costs occur?

Over the year of diagnosis, inpatient services accounted for 50 percent of lung and 58 percent of colorectal cancer spending but only 22 percent of breast and 25 percent of prostate cancer spending (Figure 4). Outpatient costs were responsible for the majority of initial spending among patients newly diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer (66 percent for both).

Note that most injectable cancer drugs are included in the outpatient spending category.


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