Cost of cancer to rise by almost two thirds over next decade

New approaches to diagnosing and treating cancer urgently needed to avoid a £5.9 billion shortfall

The cost of diagnosing and treating cancer in the UK is likely to rise by almost two thirds (62%) over the next decade, according to new figures released by Bupa today.

In the report entitled, Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: A 2021 Projection, Bupa estimates that the cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment will rise from £9.4 billion in 2010 to £15.3 billion by 2021 - an increase of £5.9 billion. This will mean that while in 2010, the average cost of treating someone diagnosed with cancer was approximately £30,000; by 2021 this will rise to almost £40,000.

The increase in the overall cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment is, in part, the result of the UK's ageing population, which is predicted to lead to a 20% growth in cancer rates by 2021. In addition, the report illustrates that the cost of cancer technologies and treatments will continue to rise significantly over the 10 year period.

"This report shows that the costs of providing optimal care in Britain will rise by a staggering 62% over the next decade; ironically, the reasons behind this dramatic increase in costs are a cause for celebration. Cancer is predominantly a disease of older people and because of the advances of modern medicine, many more are living in good health well beyond retirement. This trend is set to continue so cancer incidence with inevitably rise. Fortunately, when cancer does strike, we now have powerful new technologies available to gradually turn cancer into a chronic, controllable disease like diabetes. However, the rising numbers and the advent of innovation come with a hefty price tag" said Professor Karol Sikora, Consultant Oncologist at Hammersmith Hospital and Medical Director of Cancer Partners UK.

Uniquely, the report calculated spending in the public, private and voluntary sector in the UK and found that the biggest impact would be felt by the NHS (a £5.2 billion increase), followed by the private sector (a £531 million increase) and the voluntary sector (a £131 million increase).

The research, conducted by healthcare analysts, Laing and Buisson, identified that all sectors would struggle to find the increased budget due to the current economic conditions. However it concluded that a failure to respond to the challenge may result in UK survival rates falling further behind other developing countries.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, Managing Director, Bupa Health and Wellbeing said, "It is not just about finding new resources to meet the challenge. The public, private and voluntary sectors will also need to reassess how and where cancer patients can best be treated to ensure that the available resources are spent in ways that can maintain or improve outcomes more efficiently. By looking at the cost of cancer over the next decade it is clear that, for all of us involved in healthcare, innovation will be necessary."

The report identifies three approaches which could help address the challenge:

 1. Find new ways to address the cost of tests and treatments for cancer

  • Ensure better national planning for availability of new drugs and technologies
  • Integrate companion tests for personalised medicines into care pathways
  • Find new ways to bring cancer drugs to market

2. Change how and where we treat cancer patients and survivors

  • Make out-of-hospital care a standard choice for patients when clinically appropriate
  • Enable patients to manage their follow-up appointments

3. Make it easier for people to navigate their cancer treatment options

  • Enable patients to transfer between public and private facilities more easily



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