High cost of cancer care in the U.S. doesn't reduce mortality rates

While the U.S. spends twice as much on cancer care as the average high-income country, its cancer mortality rates are only slightly better than average, according to a new analysis by researchers at Yale University and Vassar College.

The results were published May 27 in JAMA Health Forum.

"There is a common perception that the U.S. offers the most advanced cancer care in the world," said lead author Ryan Chow, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Yale. "Our system is touted for developing new treatments and getting them to patients more quickly than other countries. We were curious whether the substantial U.S. investment on cancer care is indeed associated with better cancer outcomes."

Out of the 22 high-income countries included in the study, the United States had the highest spending rate.

"The U.S. is spending over $200 billion per year on cancer care - roughly $600 per person, in comparison to the average of $300 per person across other high-income countries," said senior author Cary Gross, professor of medicine and director of the National Clinician Scholars Program at Yale. "This raises the key question: Are we getting our money's worth?"

The researchers found that national cancer care spending showed no relationship to population-level cancer mortality rates. "In other words, countries that spend more on cancer care do not necessarily have better cancer outcomes," said Chow.

In fact, six countries - Australia, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Korea, and Switzerland - had both lower cancer mortality and lower spending than the United States.

Smoking is the strongest risk factor for cancer mortality, and smoking rates have historically been lower in the United States, compared to other countries. When the researchers controlled for international variations in smoking rates, U.S. cancer mortality rates became no different than the average high-income country, with nine countries - Australia, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland - having lower smoking-adjusted cancer mortality than the United States.

"Adjusting for smoking shows the United States in an even less favorable light, because the low smoking rates in the U.S. had been protective against cancer mortality," said Chow.

More research is needed to identify specific policy interventions that could meaningfully reform the United States cancer care system, the authors say. However, they point to lax regulation of cancer drug approvals and drug pricing as two key factors contributing to the high cost of U.S. cancer care.

"The pattern of spending more and getting less is well-documented in the U.S. healthcare system; now we see it in cancer care, too," said co-author Elizabeth Bradley, president of Vassar College and professor of science, technology, and society. "Other countries and systems have much to teach the U.S. if we could be open to change."

Chow RD, Bradley EH, Gross CP.
Comparison of Cancer-Related Spending and Mortality Rates in the US vs 21 High-Income Countries.
JAMA Health Forum. 2022;3(5):e221229. doi: 10.1001/jamahealthforum.2022.1229

Most Popular Now

Positive Phase 1 data from mRNA-based individualiz…

BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX, "BioNTech") announced initial data from an ongoing investigator-initiated first-in-human Phase 1 study evaluating the safety and tolerability o...

FDA approves RIABNI™ (rituximab-arrx), a biosimila…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved RIABNI™ (rituximab-arrx), a biosimilar to Rituxan®, in combination with ...

Pfizer to invest $120 million to produce COVID-19 …

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) announced today that it will further strengthen its commitment to United States manufacturing with a $120 million investment at its Kalamazoo, Mic...

Proteomic study of 2,002 tumors identifies 11 pan-…

A new study that analyzed protein levels in 2,002 primary tumors from 14 tissue-based cancer types identified 11 distinct molecular subtypes, providing systematic knowled...

A new technology offers treatment for HIV infectio…

A new study from Tel Aviv University offers a new and unique treatment for AIDS which may be developed into a vaccine or a one time treatment for patients with HIV. The s...

Sanoff offers perspective on a promising rectal ca…

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center's Hanna K. Sanoff, MD, MPH, is the author of a viewpoint in the New England Journal of Medicine that provides a perspective on ...

Broadly neutralizing antibodies could provide immu…

Two broadly neutralizing antibodies show great promise to provide long-acting immunity against COVID-19 in immunocompromised populations according to a paper published Ju...

Boehringer Ingelheim signs option to acquire Truti…

Boehringer Ingelheim announced the signing of an option to acquire Trutino Biosciences Inc. (the "Transaction"), a San Diego-based biotech company. Trutino Biosciences...

Novel drug combo activates natural killer cell imm…

Most skin cancer drugs that activate the immune system work by triggering immune cells, called T cells, to attack tumors, but when T cells are activated for too long, the...

Novartis announces Nature Medicine publication of …

Novartis announced that Nature Medicine published final results from both the two- and three-copy cohorts of the completed Phase 3 SPR1NT trial as separate companion manu...

COVID-19 rebound after taking Paxlovid likely due …

Paxlovid is the leading oral medication for preventing severe cases of COVID-19 in high-risk individuals. However, symptoms returned in some patients after treatment was ...

Biomarkers found that could be drug targets agains…

Biomarkers that could be targets for novel drugs to treat glioblastoma brain tumors have been identified by investigators at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Cent...