In the third article of this series we will look at the future of cancer. Most people may not see cancer as a typical age-related disease but when you look at the statistics it becomes clear that cancer incidence increases strongly with age (1). Hence, the increased aging of the population is expected to lead to an increased incidence of cancer.
In 2008 about 12.7 million people were diagnosed with cancer worldwide and it is expected that the number of new cancer cases each year will continue to rise. It has been estimated that by 2030 there may be 22 million new cancer cases each year. Furthermore, cancer is also the leading cause of death; responsible for 7.6 million deaths in 2008 alone (2).
We need to deal with cancer if we want to live longer
Cancer is a very expensive disease. The direct medical cost of cancer in the US was 88.7 billion USD in 2011 (3). In Europe the loss of productivity due to early death from cancer amounted to €42.6 billion with an additional cost of €9.43 billion due to lost working days (4). The total impact of premature death and disability from cancer in 2008 was 895 billion USD to the world’s economy (5). To put this in perspective, there are only 15 countries in the world that have a gross domestic product over 895 billion USD (6).
While cancer research is the best funded one of all biomedical research, it is useful to remember that the money spent by the government on cancer research in the UK only amounts to £4,30 per person per year. In contrast, the economic cost of cancer in the UK is estimated to be £250 per person per year (7).
Anisimov VN, Ukraintseva SV, Yashin AI (2005). Cancer in rodents: does it tell us about cancer in humans? Nature Reviews Cancer 5: 807-819.
Luengo-Fernandez R, Leal J, Gray A, Sullivan R (2015). Economic burden of cancer across the European Union: a population-based cost analysis. The Lancet 14(12): 1165-1174.