Cancerfighter’s Weblog

Alternative cancer therapies and ideas

The cost of chemotherapy

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on April 2, 2014


What is Chemotherapy costing us?

The total NHS Budget is £110 billion (2013/2014)

Round about 9% of that goes on cancer treatment (£9.4 billion). This is equivalent to an average of £30,000 per person with cancer. Over the next decade the costs of cancer care in the UK are expected to rise to £15.3 billion in 2021, which is equivalent to an average of £40,000 per person with cancer (a 62% increase)

Just over a quarter of that expenditure goes on hospital inpatient costs, not including surgery (just the cost of caring for a person in hospital). Almost a quarter (22%) goes on the cost of surgery, and 18% goes on drug treatments (including costs of giving the drug). The remainder of the budget goes on outpatient costs including diagnostic procedures (8%), radiotherapy treatment (5%), cancer screening (5%), specialist services, such as palliative care (5%), and other community services including general practice care (10%).

Over the past seven or eight years newer technologies have been estimated to add around 3.7% per year to the total cancer expenditure. This rate of increase is expected to apply in the coming decade as well.

Given these figures we can see that chemotherapy costs the NHS around £1.7 billion and within ten years and if this increases by 3.7% – as indicated by a report by BUPA then in 2021 the total chemo cost in that year will be £2.3 billion. The total cost over 10 years then will be around £20 billion. This is just for the chemo.

What can we buy for that money?
400,000 houses (@£50,000 each)
Total one fifth of the NHS budget for one year

If chemo was effective across the board then this might seem a price worth paying but the general consensus is that – at the very most generous assessment by the most convinced supporters – only 15% of cancer patients benefit from this expenditure (the usual assessment is less than half this figure).
Does this really make sense?

© Jonathan Chamberlain 2014

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