The Cost of Surviving Cancer

Over the past few years, I’ve written a number of posts talking about different cancers and new cancer treatments. Fifty years ago, nearly any diagnosis of cancer would have been a death sentence, but today, surviving many cancers has drastically increased.

According to the American Cancer Society:

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  • Lung cancer death rates declined 48% from 1990 to 2016 among men and 23% from 2002 to 2016 among women. From 2011 to 2015, the rates of new lung cancer cases dropped by 3% per year in men and 1.5% per year in women. The differences reflect historical patterns in tobacco use, where women began smoking in large numbers many years later than men and were slower to quit. However, smoking patterns do not appear to explain the higher lung cancer rates being reported in women compared with men born around the 1960s.
  • Breast cancer death rates declined 40% from 1989 to 2016 among women. The progress is attributed to improvements in early detection.
  • Prostate cancer death rates declined 51% from 1993 to 2016 among men. Routine screening with the PSA blood test is no longer recommended because of concerns about high rates of over-diagnosis (finding cancers that would never need to be treated). Therefore, fewer cases of prostate cancer are now being detected.
  • Colorectal cancer death rates declined 53% from 1970 to 2016 among men and women because of increased screening and improvements in treatment. However, in adults younger than age 55, new cases of colorectal cancer have increased almost 2% per year since the mid-1990s.

Tens of thousands more people are surviving cancer than ever before and that survivability comes with a cost that can be almost as devastating as being told one has cancer to begin with.

All of the new treatments for cancer come with a financial cost. One reason the costs are so high is that they try to recoup the high costs of research and development. The other reason is greed on the part of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.

A recent report reveals the rising cost of surviving cancer:

“Cancer survivors and those battling the disease spend nearly 40 percent more out-of-pocket on doctor appointments, drugs and other medical expenditures than people who have never been diagnosed with the disease, a new report found.”

“A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis found that younger cancer patients are facing higher bills than older ones have, suggesting that cancer care is getting more expensive.”

“And those costs are taking a psychological toll on survivors, according to the new report.”

“The authors urge that making health care – especially for cancer drugs – more affordable is imperative to improving the long-term survival of people who have already suffered through grueling cancer treatments.”

The report went on to say that about 1.76 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and that there are about 17 million cancer survivors. Those survivors live with the constant threat of the cancer returning, developing more cancers, ongoing treatments and the financial cost.

This is why some may choose not to undergo treatment for their cancer so that they don’t place their family and loved ones in a financial crisis that may last for years and years. They don’t want to go though the sickening chemotherapy nor do they want to financially ruin their family, so they choose to allow the cancer to take their lives instead of living for a few more years.

Like it or not, every person diagnosed with cancer, should consider the financial cost of treatment and what that will mean to them and their family.

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