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Oncology (Williston Park). 1995 Nov;9(11 Suppl):19-22.

The costs of cancer care in the United States: implications for action.

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  • 1Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky Lexington, USA.


The total annual cost of cancer care in the United States (including direct and indirect costs) has been estimated at more than $96 billion. Although third-party payers have led the effort to reduce these costs, such high expenditures must concern society as a whole, since money spent on cancer care, whether through insurance premiums, taxes to support Medicare, or payouts from family savings, could be used for other purposes. In the future, attention may be shifted to more cost-effective strategies, including greater prevention efforts and development of better diagnostic tools to permit early detection. Improved diagnosis, however, presents an anomaly in that with earlier detection, survival is greater but the overall direct treatment costs are higher. This is why when making decisions about allocation of medical resources, the indirect costs of morbidity and mortality (which are reduced with early diagnosis) must be considered as well as the direct cost.

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