The cost of cancer research continues to grow every year. Like other illnesses, the cost comes in many forms and shapes.
Cost in the United States
It’s not possible to give precise figures, but even the most conservative estimates put the expense at billions of dollars annually. In the United States, the total expenditure is pegged at $200 billion. The direct medical expenses are at $60 billion and the indirect expenses at $15 billion.
The cost of cancer research is highest for breast cancer, at over $6 billion. Lung and prostate cancer both cost $5 billion. These expenses do not include pap smears, colorectal tests and mammograms. Add these in, along with chemotherapy and other ailments and the figure is around $3 billion.
All these figures are annual. They were also computed based on higher dollar rates. Given the uncertain economic times, the cost will definitely go up.
The federal government allocates around $5 billion annually for this. This seems large, but the fact is over $60 billion is spent on detecting the symptoms alone. While these figures are large, they will only grow. Recent studies have shown by 2017, the annual cost of cancer research will reach over $2 trillion.
High Cost of Treatment
Another factor driving up the cost of research are the drug treatments. For patients suffering from the disease the financial burden is great, aside from the emotional anguish it causes.
According to pharmaceutical companies, the high price of drugs is unavoidable. It has been estimated that drug companies spend over $800 billion on developing a product. This includes marketing and research.
Each new drug also takes about a dozen years to develop a drug. The chances of success are also limited. Out of 5,000 agents they test, less than 10 are allowed to be used in clinical examinations. In spite of this high cost of cancer research, only one usually makes it to the market.
Effect on the Patient’s Finances
But the biggest financial burden is usually on the patient. Treatments like chemotherapy and drugs cost a fortune. But that is only one aspect. This doesn’t include the travel expenses, falling into debt and losing all of their savings. Not everyone can afford to get these treatments and even those who can suffer greatly in financial terms.
Today, researchers are studying other ways of treating the illness. One of the promising areas of research are biomarkers. These are in the DNA and can be used for diagnosing the disease. It is still under development but it certainly holds promise. Further analysis on genes will definitely help.
The burden on the patient must be reduced. However, the money being spent on research and development must continue. Economically, it can hurt.
However, lives are at stake. Whatever the cost of cancer research, it’s important to keep in mind that no price ceiling can be placed on saving human lives.