Private Business Intermediaries

Cancer costs a major concern to the NHS

07/11/2012 | By Sharmila Chauhan
A study presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Liverpool on Wednesday, found that the annual cost of cancer in the UK is £15.8 billion.

The research was carried out at Oxford University and looked at not just health care costs, but the overall economic burden of cancer including economic losses as well as unpaid care provided by friends and family.

At the top of the list was lung cancer, which according to the research, costs about £2.4bn. The next most costly type of cancer was bowel cancer at £1.6bn; followed by breast cancer (£1.5bn) and then prostate cancer (£0.8bn).

Over half of the money was spent on (£7.6bn) premature deaths and time off work. Healthcare costs were £5.6bn and unpaid care to cancer patients by friends and family (£2.6bn). 'Our research shows that cancers impact the economy as a whole – and not just the health service. Premature deaths, time off work and unpaid care by friends and family account for 64 per cent of all cancer costs (£10.2bn) in the UK in 2009.” Research author Dr Jose Leal from the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford. This level of healthcare spending represents a cost of £90 per person in the UK population. 

Cancer costs therefore do not just involve the costs of medicines and hospital treatment. This may be of particular concern to certain groups of people including the self employed, those who rely on a sole income to support the family as well as those who do not have a close support network to help them in times of illness. Options for such people may include health insurance policies, some of which may be able to buffer them for loss of earnings for themselves (if they are self employed) as well as unpaid care that may be provided by family and friends.