Many new treatments for cancer are expensive and may extend life no more than a few months. As a result, the journal Lancet Oncology commissioned a report on the costs of cancer care. The authors point out that the issue of affordability will have an impact on many millions of people worldwide. Globally, about 12 million are diagnosed with cancer each year. Neither individuals nor health care systems will be able to afford some of the most recent experimental drugs.
The report offered as one example Provenge, developed to treat men with advanced prostate cancer. A three-dose course of treatment costs $100,000 and improves survival by only several months. While making no comments about the appropriateness of this particular treatment, the report says that it is essential to have thoughtful dialog about this cost issue now, before it gets completely out of control.
[Lancet Oncology, Sept., 2011]