Cancer spending rising faster than total health spending

Spending on cancer has risen at a slightly faster rate than total health spending in recent years, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Health system expenditure on cancer and other neoplasms in Australia: 2008-09, shows, after adjusting for inflation, spending on cancer rose by 56% between 2000-01 and 2008-09, from $2,894 million to $4,526 million (excluding national population screening programs).

Over the same period, total health system expenditure rose by 52% from $74,679 million to $113,661 million.

In 2008-09, cancer represented 7% of total health system expenditure on chronic disease and was the sixth highest area of chronic disease expenditure in Australia.

'The number of Australians diagnosed with cancer is rising and cancer is being diagnosed at an earlier stage; screening programs are expanding; survival rates are improving; and new technologies and treatments continue to become available-and the increase in spending reflects this,' said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.

In 2009, around 114,000 people were diagnosed with cancer compared to just over 90,000 in 2001.

'Expenditure on cancer generally increased with age in 2008-09, from $83 million for people aged 15-24, peaking at $1,117 million in 2008-09 for those aged 65-74,' Mr Harvey said.

Of cancer types, colorectal cancer accounted for the highest health system expenditure, followed by non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukaemia, and breast cancer.

For cancer services, most health system expenditure in 2008-09 was on hospital admitted cancer services (79%). Out-of-hospital services accounted for 9% and prescription pharmaceuticals accounted for 12%.

Spending on national population screening programs totalled just over $332.2 million in 2008-09, up from $184.1 million in 2000-01.

'Some of this large increase was due to the introduction of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in 2006,' Mr Harvey said.

In 2008-09, $174.5 million was spent on BreastScreen Australia, $125.2 million on the National Cervical Screening Program, and $32.5 million on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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