Cancer care costs expected to double in some states by 2020


  • Carrie Printz

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Cancer treatment costs will go up for every state in the nation and will more than double in some states in less than 8 years, according to a study by RTI International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1

The study, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, includes state-by-state projections of cancer care costs through 2020. Among the findings:

  • Treatment costs will range from a 34% increase in Washington, DC, to a 115% increase in Arizona.

  • The states with the highest projected cancer care costs (in 2010 dollars) were California ($28.3 billion), Florida ($24.9 billion), Texas ($19.6 billion), and New York ($17.4 billion).

  • Washington, DC, had the lowest projected care costs ($347 million), followed by Alaska ($508 million) and Wyoming ($539 million).

  • The states with the largest projected increases in the number of people treated for cancer include Florida (353,000), California (351,000), and Texas (249,000).

The projections reflect changing demographics, notes lead author Justin Trogdon, PhD, a health economist at RTI International. The states with the largest forecasted increases in costs are also those with the largest projected growth in residents aged 65 years and older. Dr. Trogdon adds that the data could be useful for guiding future investments in cancer prevention and early detection. The study relied on cancer prevalence data from the 2004 to 2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey as well as US Census Bureau population forecasts to determine how many people will need cancer treatment and what average costs will be. The authors based their projections on the assumption that the percentage of people treated for cancer would remain constant within age, sex, and state categories, and that the inflationadjusted cost of cancer care per person will increase by 3.6% per year.

Dr. Trogdon adds that he hopes states will use the data as they try to make evidence-based decisions about how to allocate resources for cancer research and interventions as well as other policy decisions around cancer prevention and treatment.