1415PD_PR - Economic burden of malignant neoplasms in the European Union

Date 01 October 2012
Event ESMO Congress 2012
Session Public health and familial cancer
Topics Bioethics, Legal, and Economic Issues
Presenter Ramon Luengo-Fernandez
Authors R. Luengo-Fernandez1, J. Leal2, R. Sullivan3
  • 1Public Health, HERC, University of Oxford, OX3 7LF - Oxford/UK
  • 2Department Of Public Health, HERC, University of Oxford, OX3 7LF - Oxford/UK
  • 3Research Oncology, King's College London, London/UK


Malignant neoplasms (cancer) are the second main cause of death after cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Europe and have a significant impact on the healthcare systems of the European Union (EU), on family and friends who provide unpaid care, and on the wider economy and society. Improving our understanding of the economic burden of cancers is essential to help evaluate the impact of public health policies and prioritize the allocation of future research and care funds.

The economic cost of cancer was estimated for all the 27 countries of the EU in 2009 as well as the proportion of total cancer costs due to the four main forms of cancer: lung, colorectal, female breast, and prostate. Total costs comprised healthcare costs (e.g., primary care, hospital care), unpaid care costs by family and friends and lost earnings due to morbidity (absence from work) and premature mortality. The same methodological approach was used across countries. Costs were estimated using a “top down” framework by identifying the volume of resources associated with each category within an annual timeframe and respective unit costs. Relevant data were identified from international and national sources, such as the World Health Organisation, supplemented by structured literature searches, and from the analysis of EU-wide individual-patient household surveys, such as the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe.

Cancer was estimated to cost the EU €117 billion annually (€234 per EU citizen), with healthcare accounting for 36% of costs (€84 per EU citizen) and representing over 58 million hospital bed days. Lost earnings due to premature mortality and morbidity represented 36% and 8% of costs, respectively, while unpaid care accounted for the remaining 20%. Germany represented 26% of the total EU costs and there was considerable variation on the economic burden per person across the 27 countries. Lung cancer represented 16% of the overall cancer costs, followed by colorectal cancer (11%), breast cancer (10%) and prostate cancer (5%).

Malignant neoplasms have a significant impact on the European healthcare systems and society as a whole. The work also highlights the need for comparable and accurate intelligence on cancers in EU-27 and the need for greater evidence based policymaking.