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The Conversation Around Cancer Costs Must Go Beyond Drugs

As a primary care physician and cancer survivor, I’ve seen and experienced the physical and emotional toll the disease takes on patients and caregivers. Fortunately, great progress has been made on the clinical front, and cancer death rates are declining; yet, the financial toll of this disease keeps growing.

Cancer care costs have risen from $57 billion in 2001 to over $200 billion today, placing an increasingly unsustainable burden on patients, families, employers, and payers. While patients live longer, they are increasingly more likely to deplete their life savings or declare bankruptcy, or are forced to make hard choices between essentials like food and medicine. How can we reduce this spend while still advancing toward a future in which cancer deaths are reduced, outcomes improve, and quality of life during treatment and survivorship is enhanced?

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