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Can we afford the cancer care of the future?
Date:5/26/2009

ORLANDO (May 30, 2009)When a cancer patient and his or her doctor discuss the value of a treatment option, the conversation usually centers on a consideration of the treatment's medical benefits versus its possible side effects for the patient. Increasingly, however, as the already high costs of cancer care continue to rise, a full view of the patient's welfare must also take into account the economic impact of the treatment on the patient and his or her family.

Additionally, beyond its clear impact on patients, the increasing cost of cancer care also presents challenges to other stakeholders involved in the development and delivery of care.

"Cancer care is one of the most expensive areas of health care today, and the cost of that care is increasing steadily, for patients and for society as a whole," says Neal J. Meropol, M.D., director of the gastrointestinal cancer and gastrointestinal tumor risk assessment programs at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Meropol, who is also a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Cost of Care Task Force and lead author on the upcoming ASCO Guidance Statement on the Cost of Cancer Care, offered his analysis of the problem in a talk presented at the ASCO annual meeting in Orlando today.

"As physicians, we have a responsibility to understand the impact that the increasing cost of cancer care has on everyone involved," Meropol notes. "In particular, we need to be able to discuss with our patients the impact that high out-of-pocket expenses might have on them and their families, however difficult that conversation might be. More and more, cost considerations have an appropriate role in the assessment of treatment options."

According to Meropol, other stakeholders affected by the rising cost of cancer care in addition to patients include employers who must remain competitive while subsidizing their employees' health care, health insurance providers who must watch their bottom lines while deciding w
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Contact: Frank Hoke
Franklin.Hoke@fccc.edu
215-475-2888
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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