U.S. Spends More on Cancer Than Other Countries, but Without Mortality Benefit

U.S. had the highest per capita spending on cancer care in 2020, but a median cancer mortality rate

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WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Although the cancer mortality rate in the United States is lower than the median for 22 high-income countries, the United States spends twice as much on cancer care as the median country, according to a study published online May 27 in JAMA Health Forum.

Ryan D. Chow, Ph.D., from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues used data from 22 high-income countries to assess whether cancer mortality rates in 2020 were lower in countries with higher cancer-related spending and to estimate across countries the incremental cost per averted cancer death.

The researchers found that the median cancer mortality rate was 91.4 per 100,000 population and median per capita spending for cancer care overall was $296. The U.S. cancer mortality rate was higher than six other countries (86.3 per 100,000), yet the United States spends more than any other country ($584). Nine countries had lower cancer care expenditures and lower mortality rates than the United States when adjusting for smoking. Compared to four of the remaining 12 countries, the United States spent more than $5 million per averted death, and for the eight other countries, the United States spent between $1 and $5 million per averted death. There was no association observed between cancer care expenditures and cancer mortality rates, regardless of adjustments for smoking.

"Findings of this study suggest that the U.S. expenditure on cancer care may not be commensurate with improved cancer outcomes," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the biotechnology industry.

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