Study Finds US Cancer Care Costs Approximately $156.2 Billion


Breast cancer found to be the most expensive type of the disease, costing approximately $3.4 billion in the United States.

Care for the 15 most common types of cancer in the United States cost approximately $156.2 billion in 2018, according to the results of a study by the Penn State College of Medicine published in JAMA Network Open.

“The public often hears that the US spends an inordinate amount of money on health care, but no one has quantified exactly how big that number is and how is that number broken down for exactly what types of services,” Nicholas Zaorsky, MD, assistant professor for the departments of radiation oncology and public health sciences at the Penn State College of Medicine, said in a press release.

“As a team, we wanted to look at what private insurances are paying for each kind of cancer and for each type of service. We also wanted to look at what are the greatest number of services performed and how much does each one of those services cost.”

Investigators found that medication was the biggest expense, treatment for breast, lung, lymphoma, and colorectal cancer carrying the highest cost. Breast cancer had approximately 10.9 million services and procedures and was the most expensive type of the disease, at approximately $3.4 billion.

Colorectal cancer had approximately 3.9 million services for a cost of approximately $1.1 billion dollars, along with lung cancer, which followed breast cancer as the most expensive type of the disease.

The study authors examined a database that had statistics on 27.1 million privately insured individuals, of whom 402,115 were privately insured individuals younger than 65 years of age with cancer in the United States.

The database also included 38.4 million types of procedures for the 15 most common cancers: breast, prostrate, colorectal, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, uterus, head and neck, bladder, kidney, thyroid, stomach, liver, pancreas, and esophagus cancers.

The study was designed to gather data on how money is spent on cancer care.


Cancer costs US more than $156 billion, with drugs a leading expense. EurekAlert. News release. October 6, 2021. Accessed on October 21, 2021.

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