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Australians Diagnosed With Cancer Facing Lifetime Treatment Costs Of $1.3 Million

Calls for greater financial education

Australians Diagnosed With Cancer Facing Lifetime Treatment Costs Of $1.3 Million Image: Pexels

The Cancer Council has called for greater financial education around the costs of treating cancer, with Australians facing up in excess of $1 million in medical costs related to the illness.

Released in January, the Economic Cost of Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults report found 1,100 young Australians aged 15 to 25 are diagnosed with cancer every year, and will accrue average treatment costs of $1.3 million.

This includes more than $134,000 in health system costs, $418,000 in lost productivity and $644,000 in burden of disease costs.

Cancer Council Australia’s National President Professor Sanchia Aranda told SBS News patients should be given “an improved standard of informed financial consent”.

“We'd like to see public reporting of ‘gap’ charges [charges beyond what is reimbursed by Medicare or private health insurance] so people can make decisions about the clinicians they go to,” she said.

“And we'd like better pathways of care, so that the choices of moving into the public system against the private system are there and available to people at diagnosis.”

The report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, also drew on several studies from Australia and overseas to highlight the impact cancer could have on people’s productivity or capacity to work in both the long-term and short-term.

One study reviewed found that up to seven in 10 men and half of women diagnosed with cancer during adolescence or young adulthood had reduced participation in employment.


The total lifetime productivity cost to Australians was estimated to be $460,000 per young person diagnosed with cancer.

This comprises costs such as temporary absence from work, leaving the workforce and premature death and interruptions in education, training and employment opportunities.

Survivors of childhood cancer are almost 20 per cent less likely to have a high school or tertiary qualification.

CanTeen’s Fiona McDonald explained that the effects of cancer and the burden of cost continues long after treatment has finished.

“Fear and anxiety of the cancer returning can have a lasting impact on a person’s mind,” she said.

“CanTeen is dedicated to providing support for young Australians when cancer turns their world upside down.

“I’d urge all young Australians living with a cancer diagnosis – and their family and friends – to remember they are not alone, and head to the Getting Cancer Young YouTube channel.”