The High Cost of Treating Cancer

Medically Reviewed

Cancer costs more per patient than any other medical malady. The cost of treating cancer in the United States in 2010 rose to $125 billion, up from $95.5 billion nine years earlier.

The financial implications of treating cancer can be devastating. In a 2010 American Cancer Society study, 27 percent of people under 65 undergoing cancer therapy said that they had used up most of their savings.

A 2013 study in The Oncologist by S. Yousuf Zafar, M.D., and his colleagues at the Duke Medical Center noted that:

• 75 percent of the 254 participants had applied for drug copayment assistance for their cancer treatment.

• 68 percent cut back on leisure activities.

• 46 percent reduced spending on food and clothing.

• 46 percent used savings to defray out-of-pocket expenses.

• 42 percent reported a significant or catastrophic subjective financial burden.

• 24 percent avoided filling prescriptions altogether.

• 20 percent took less than the prescribed amount of medication to save money.

• 19 percent partially filled their prescriptions.