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More Dollars Don't Boost Lung Cancer Survival
Date:10/23/2007

5-year outcomes unchanged since 1970s, despite higher spending on care, study shows

TUESDAY, Oct 23 (HealthDay News) -- Although it can cost more than $1 million to give a lung cancer patient an added year of life, overall survival from the disease hasn't increased significantly, a new study finds.

On average, life-expectancy for Americans with lung cancer increased by less than one month between 1983 and 1997. At the same time, medical costs increased by more than $20,000 per patient, researchers reported in the Oct. 22 online edition of Cancer.

"We haven't made much progress in lung cancer survival, and what progress we have made has come at a significant cost," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. He was not involved in the research.

"The concern is that as we move toward closer examination of survival of people with lung cancer and as our resources in this country become more strained, we are going to see more estimates about how much it costs to save a year of life," Lichtenfeld said.

Today, people diagnosed with lung cancer expect to get the full range of treatment, Lichtenfeld said. But as money becomes less available for health care, studies like this could impact on how health care providers make treatment decisions, he said.

"Right now, money isn't influencing our decisions," Lichtenfeld said. "But, when we look forward 20 years from now, we are going to make decisions about who we treat and how we treat them based on economic considerations," he said. "We are at risk in this country of moving in that direction."

Another expert is hopeful that type of system will never come to pass, however.

"This is America -- we don't ration health care," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer at the American Lung Association, New York City.

In addition, Edelman is against pitting one disease against anoth
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