Considerations on cancer-cost discussion: Eurochip-3

Regarding the issue of cancer-cost reduction, good quality data on costs are a prerequisite. That is to say that prior to any considerations on cost reductions, a good picture of all the parameters that generate costs should be available.However, cost analysis is a quite complex task that depends on the degree of the desirable/feasible level of accuracy. That is to say that the more accurate figures one wants to achieve, the more deeper he has to go down the analysis of functions and procedures and the more resources he requires to perform the analysis. There are lots of issues to be discussed regarding the costs of cancer care management. Nonetheless, I identified six major areas which may be considered as cost categories and could be further analyzed. These cost categories are: 

  1. Information collection (e.g. cancer registration)
  2. Prevention (e.g. screening programmes and HPV immunization)
  3. Primary care (follow-up included)
  4. Secondary care (follow-up included)
  5. Palliative care
  6. All other related activities not classified above

 Bellow, I attach two papers concerning the costs of cancer management that may be helpful for the work of Eurochip-3 as references. Also, they may be useful in considering and in devising an economic model for cancer care. To the best of my knowledge, an important and interesting approach to “costing” cancer-care-services is that of BJM Graham of the ISD Cancer Information Group entitled “The Cost of Cancer Care in Scotland-2002” (see the link: http://www.isdscotland.org/isd/servlet/FileBuffer?namedFile=Cancercosts10rtf.pdf&pContentDispositionType=inline). ISD Scotland is an excellent Health Information Service for the Scottish NHS that collects routinely a plethora of data. Due to the nature of the Scottish healthcare system’s structure and on the basis of a rich pool of e-health data, the author was able to estimate a variety of costs concerning the cancer care in his country (a full range of estimations from the total cost of cancer-care to the mean cost estimates of cancer patients’ follow-up appointments). Certainly this approach is not feasible in most other countries but this study could be very useful for discussion. Besides it includes many references. 

Another interesting work, tackling the issue of cancer-care cost-reduction, is that of Professor D. Taylor and S. Carter from the London University School of Pharmacy prepared for “Marie Curie Cancer Care” (NGO). This paper is entitled “Valuing Choice – Dying at Home” and can be found in the link: http://campaign.mariecurie.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/646C31D0-49C1-42C5-8BFE-D1A8F3F3A499/0/campaign_valuing_choice.pdf. This paper concerns only the care for the terminally ill and the authors argue that, by investing more in high quality palliative care at home services, there will be big savings for the hospital care services. More precisely they argue that, in the medium to long term, every £1 extra investment in “palliative care at home” services will result in a £2 release in the hospital services. This paper has also quite interesting references.

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LAST UPDATED: 19 July 2008

Recent article: Economic evaluation of cancer treatment in the US:

Economic Evaluations of Medical Care Interventions for Cancer Patients: How, Why, and What Does it Mean?“, Ya-Chen Tina Shih and Michael T. Halpern, CA Cancer J Clin 2008; 58:231-244 [free full text], (link, last accessed: July 19, 2008). 

Date entered: 25 June 2008

Evaluation of Trends in the Cost of Initial Cancer Treatment“, Joan L. Warren, K. Robin Yabroff, Angela Meekins, Marie Topor, Elizabeth B. Lamont, Martin L. Brown, J Natl Cancer Inst 2008;100:888-897 [abstract free], (link, last accessed: June 25, 2008) 

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