Cancer-related medical costs, already a significant portion of overall medical expenses in the United States, will more than double in some states in less than eight years, according to a new study by researchers from RTI International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, includes state-by-state projections of cancer care costs through the year 2020.
According to the study, cancer treatment costs will go up for every state in the nation, ranging from a 34 percent increase in Washington D.C. to a 115 percent increase in Arizona. State-level expenditures for 2020 (in 2010 dollars) will range from $347 million in Washington D.C. to $28.3 billion in California.
"The projections reflect expected demographic shifts," said Justin Trogdon, Ph.D., a health economist at RTI and the lead author of the study. "The states with the higher forecasted increase in costs also have the higher forecasted increases in the number of residents over age 65. These estimates provide a useful baseline against which to gauge the impact of cancer policies and could be useful for guiding future investments in cancer prevention and early detection."
The states with the highest projected cancer-care costs were California ($28.3 billion), Florida ($24.9 billion), Texas ($19.6 billion) and New York ($17.4 billion). Washington, D.C. had the lowest projected cancer-care costs ($347 million), followed by Alaska ($508 million) and Wyoming ($539 million).
The researchers used cancer prevalence data from the 2004 to 2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey along with U.S. Census Bureau population forecasts to determine how many people in each state will likely need cancer treatment in 2020 and what the average cost of treatment will be.
State-level estimates of the number of residents needing cancer treatment between 2010 and 2020 varied significantly across states, ranging from a 7 percent decline in cancer cases in Washington D.C. to 46 percent increase in Arizona.
The states with the largest projected increases in the number of people treated for cancer include Florida (353,000), California (351,000) and Texas (249,000).
"Effective prevention and early detection strategies are needed to limit the growing burden of cancer," Trogdon said. "We hope that these findings are useful for states as they try to make evidence-based decisions about the allocation of resources for cancer research and interventions as well as other policy decisions related to cancer prevention and treatment."
The projections in the study were based on the assumption that the percentage of people treated for cancer would remain constant within age, sex and state categories and that the inflation-adjusted cost of cancer care per person will increase by 3.6 percent per year.