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IPFS News Link • Drugs and Medications

Cancer-Drug Costs Skyrocket, Leaving Even Insured Patients In Financial Ruin

•, by George Citroner

With medical debt burying patients, the battle against cancer is taking a new financial front that could bankrupt many cancer patients.

Emerging Patterns in Cancer Data

For more than seven decades, cancer has remained among the top two leading causes of death. Well over one-third of the U.S. population will confront a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime, according to National Cancer Institute estimates.

A new study published in JAMA Network Open analyzing cancer data from 3.8 million patients reveals a trend—Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, is experiencing a sharper rise in cancer rates across major types than any previous generation dating back to 1908. This trajectory suggests that elevated cancer incidence in the United States could persist for decades to come, representing a looming public health crisis.

The cancer mortality rate in the United States has consistently fallen year over year since 2000, but the rate of newly diagnosed cases is rising. In 2024, over 2 million new cancer cases are projected in the United States, according to data published in A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. This is up from 1,958,310 new cases in 2023.

The incidence rate for six of the top 10 cancers is also increasing. Incidence rose annually by 0.6 percent to 3 percent between 2015 and 2019 for cancers like breast, pancreas, prostate, liver, kidney, and HPV-related oral cancers.

'Early-Onset Cancer Epidemic'

Research published in 2022 points to an "early-onset cancer epidemic." Some evidence suggests a 79.1 percent global increase in early-onset cancers from 1990 to 2019 and a nearly 30 percent rise in related deaths.

While the causes are unclear, scientists suggest accelerated aging due to factors like diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures may play a role.