The Major Findings From a New Study of Patient Time Costs Associated with Cancer Care
CR Magazine: Collaberation – Results

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Cancer's (Not So) Hidden Costs

Researchers have calculated a value for the time cancer patients spend being treated.

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By Mitzi Baker

The Major Findings From a New Study of Patient Time Costs Associated with Cancer Care

By Mitzi Baker


1. All patients spend long hours seeking and undergoing treatment, but some types of cancer require more time than others.

In the first year of treatment, the study’s melanoma patients spent the least amount of time getting care—an average of 60 hours. At the high end of the range were those with ovarian cancer, who received an average of 410 hours of care. Compared with similar people receiving noncancer treatments, these numbers translate to an additional 18 hours of treatment for melanoma patients and to 368 hours more for ovarian cancer patients.

2. Costs vary among different cancer types.

Patient time costs associated with medical care were lowest for melanoma: In the first year following diagnosis, costs for a melanoma patient averaged $271, rising to $1,509 for the last year of life. Gastric and ovarian cancers carried the highest price tag. The first-year cost of time for treatment of gastric cancer was $5,348, rising to $7,799 for the last year of life. The numbers for ovarian cancer were $5,605 and $7,388, respectively.

3. Cancers that are diagnosed early often require less treatment time.

For example, men with prostate cancer, which is often diagnosed at an early stage, spent an average of 55 more hours getting medical care in the first year after diagnosis—compared with similar people without cancer—and spent four days in the hospital. Women with ovarian cancer, often found late, spent an extra 368 hours in treatment and were in the hospital for 21 days.