Cancer's total economic impact was estimated at $895 billion in 2008, or 1.5% of the world's gross domestic product. This cost did not include direct medical costs, which could potentially double the total economic cost, according to co-authors Rijo John, PhD, and Hana Ross, PhD, research directors at the Atlanta-based ACS.
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that cancer will become the world's leading cause of death in 2010, followed by heart disease and stroke. In 2008, there were an estimated 7.6 million deaths from cancer, of which 60% represented people living in developing countries.
The cancers that most affected the global economy were lung cancer ($188 billion), colon/rectum cancer ($99 billion), and breast cancer ($88 billion).
The U.S. had the highest economic loss from cancer in absolute dollars of any country in the world, estimated at 1.73% of its gross domestic product. But Hungary lost an estimated 3.05% of its gross domestic product, due to its smaller population size and domestic economy.
The report noted cancers of the lung, bronchus, and trachea as accounting for the largest economic loss -- more than $180 billion. Tobacco will kill 7 million people annually by 2020 and 8 million annually by 2030, with more than 80% of the deaths occurring in low- to middle-income countries if current trends continue, the report predicted.
Due to a lack of screening programs to detect and treat cervical cancer in its early stages, this cancer accounts for more than 10% of the economic loss in low-income countries, second only to mouth and throat cancers. Of the estimated 274,000 women who die from cervical cancer, approximately 88% live in low- and middle-income nations. The report suggested that this finding should give added emphasis to the WHO's initiative to expand cervical cancer prevention and control programs in developing nations.
A "silent pandemic" of cancer is spreading through low- and middle-income countries, with the potential to overwhelm public health systems, threaten social structures, and undermine economic development efforts, according to the report.
U.S. cancer costs double over 20 years, May 10, 2010
Medicare cancer imaging grows at twice rate of overall expenses, April 27, 2010
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