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Int J Cancer. 2015 Feb 15;136(4):E136-45. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29105. Epub 2014 Sep 4.

Measuring the societal burden of cancer: the cost of lost productivity due to premature cancer-related mortality in Europe.

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School of Business, National College of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.


Every cancer-related death in someone of working age represents an economic loss to society. To inform priorities for cancer control, we estimated costs of lost productivity due to premature cancer-related mortality across Europe, for all cancers and by site, gender, region and country. Cancer deaths in 2008 were obtained from GLOBOCAN for 30 European countries across four regions. Costs were valued using the human capital approach. Years of productive life lost (YPLL) were computed by multiplying deaths between 15 and 64 years by working-life expectancy, then by country-, age- and gender-specific annual wages, corrected for workforce participation and unemployment. Lost productivity costs due to premature cancer-related mortality in Europe in 2008 were €75 billion. Male costs (€49 billion) were almost twice female costs (€26 billion). The most costly sites were lung (€17 billion; 23% of total costs), breast (€7 billion; 9%) and colorectum (€6 billion; 8%). Stomach cancer (in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe) and pancreatic cancer (in Northern and Western Europe) were also among the most costly sites. The average lost productivity cost per cancer death was €219,241. Melanoma had the highest cost per death (€312,798), followed by Hodgkin disease (€306,628) and brain and CNS cancer (€288,850). Premature mortality costs were 0.58% of 2008 European gross domestic product, highest in Central-Eastern Europe (0.81%) and lowest in Northern Europe (0.51%). Premature cancer-related mortality costs in Europe are significant. These results provide a novel perspective on the societal cancer burden and may be used to inform priority setting for cancer control.


Europe; cancer burden; life-years lost; premature mortality costs; productivity costs

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