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Cancer Survivors Have Increased Medical Expenses

Risk of high out-of-pocket expenses observed even for long-term cancer survivors

TUESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- The increased expenditure attributable to cancer applies to all cancer survivors, including longer-term survivors, according to a study published in the June 15 issue of Cancer.

Pamela Farley Short, Ph.D., from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues assessed the medical expenditures for all adult cancer survivors, aged 25 to 64 years, in the United States. Survivors were identified from the National Health Interview Survey, and their data were linked with expenditure data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for 2001 to 2007. The average total and out-of-pocket expenditures for all services and separately for prescriptions directly attributable to cancer, and the probability of exceeding different expenditure thresholds, were the outcomes measured.

The investigators found that average annual expenditure on all services in 2007 was $16,910 for survivors with newly diagnosed cancer; $7,992 for those who had been diagnosed the previous year; and $3,303 for adults with no history of cancer. The approximate average expenditure was $9,300 for all survivors, compared to $13,600 for "affected survivors." The mean annual expenditure due to cancer for previously diagnosed survivors was approximately $4,000 to $5,000. Overall, the risk of high out-of-pocket expenditures nearly doubled with cancer, though relatively little of the increase was paid directly out of pocket.

"The current results indicated that the increase in expenditures attributable to cancer is substantial, even for longer-term survivors, and that cancer increases the relative risk of high out-of-pocket expenditures," the authors write.

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