Lancet report spells out cost of cancer care in Europe

Nearly two-thirds of all spending on cancer care in Europe in 2009 was concentrated in Germany, France, Italy, and the U.K., with cancer care in these four countries costing 83 billion euros, according to a report to published on 14 October in Lancet Oncology.

Results of the first-ever study to evaluate cancer costs in the EU showed large disparities between different countries on cancer healthcare and drugs. For example, Luxembourg and Germany spent the most on healthcare for cancer per person, with Bulgaria spending the least.

Overall expenditures on cancer drugs accounted for about one-fourth of the total cost at 14 billion euros. Spending on cancer drugs as a percentage of healthcare costs was lowest in Lithuania, and highest in Cyprus, the report said.

The study from the Health Economics Research Centre, at the University of Oxford, U.K., and King's College London, collated data from international health organizations the World Health Organization (WHO) and EUROSTAT, and from national ministries of health and statistical institutes to estimate the total cost of cancer across the EU in 2009, the most recent year for which complete data are available.

When the loss of productivity from being unable to work and informal costs of care are included, the total reaches 126 billion euros, the report stated.

It is hoped the results will allow policymakers to better allocate research funds and deliver services in a way that offers good value for the money, said Dr. Ramon Luengo-Fernandez from the University of Oxford.

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