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Study calculates patient time costs associated with cancer care

applied the dollar costs to time spent on medical care in the first 12 months after diagnosis, they found that net patient time costs were lowest for melanoma ($271) and prostate cancer ($842) and highest for gastric ($5,348) and ovarian ($5,605) cancer.

In the last year of life, hospitalization time was longest for patients with gastric (35.4 days), lung (32.4 days), and ovarian (31.9 days) cancer. Estimates of patients' net time spent on medical care were lowest for melanoma (99.1 hours) and highest for ovarian (485.3 hours), lung (488.3 hours), and gastric (512.2 hours) cancer. They calculated that the net patient time costs during the last year of life ranged from $1,509 for melanoma to $7,799 for gastric, $7,435 for lung, and $7,388 for ovarian cancer. Hospitalizations were the largest component of patient time costs in both the initial year after diagnosis and in the last year of life.

"For 2005, the estimated cost for the initial phase of care alone was approximately $2.3 billion," the authors write. These estimates could be combined with estimates of direct and indirect costs to better understand the overall burden of cancer in the United States, the authors write.

"What we see here is a measure of the patient's burden of commitment--measured in dollars--associated with receiving today's cancer therapy," write Larry G. Kessler, Sc.D., of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Scott D. Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, in an accompanying editorial. "We hope that policy makers recognize the substantial economic burden of cancer in the United States and that this cost derives from many sources ?."

The editorial writers also note that these calculations do not address the emotional cost cancer patients and their families endure. Even accounting for patient time costs, "we know we have greatly underestimated the true cost of the disease," they write. Nevertheless, Kessler and Ram
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Source:Journal of the National Cancer Institute


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