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Brain Tumor Facts & Figures, March 2018: Cost of Care

Our monthly series called “Brain Tumor Facts & Figures” will go beyond some of the more well-known stats about this disease (e.g. nearly 700,000 Americans living with a brain tumor; nearly 80,000 more will be diagnosed in 2018; and an average five-year survival rate of only around 35%). The information provided in this series are aimed to help you in your advocacy, fundraising, and awareness-raising efforts by presenting pieces of facts that can help convey the difficult realities our community is up against. These can be used to make a case for support to your members of Congress, state legislators, family, friends, co-workers, and other members of your community and network.

For a full breakdown of all the standard brain tumor statistics and facts, one can always view our Brain Tumors Quick Facts webpage.


Last month, we looked at “Years of Life Lost” due to brain cancer from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) recent Cancer Trends Progress Report. This month, we’ll look at Cost of Care for different cancers, including brain cancer, based on an NCI report that provided projections for 2010-2020.

The Measure: Per-Patient Annualized Mean Net Cost of Care

What it Means: The NCI made estimates on how much it costs, on average, to treat patients with a number of different types of cancer. Projections of the medical costs were calculated by combining cancer prevelance with average annual costs of treatment for more than a dozen different tumor sites, using SEER-Medicare linkage dataCost estimates are in 2010 US dollars. Costs were broken down into phases of care, including the costs associated with initial care and the costs associated with last-year-of-life care.

Where Brain Cancer Ranks: Brain cancer had the highest per-patient initial cost of care for any cancer group, with an annualized mean net cost of care approaching $150,000. Brain cancer also had the highest annualized mean net costs for last-year-of-life care, relative to other cancers, at $135–$210K (depending on age and gender) per-patient.

The Implications: Cancer care can constitute significant financial harships on patients and their families. Brain cancer, in particular, appears to be exceptionally expensive to treat because of the multitude of medical interventions needed as part of patients’ care. In fact, according to other studies, patients with malignant brain tumors accrued health care costs that were 20-times greater than demographically matched control subjects without cancer. This is why it is critical to advocate for afforable access to treatment for all brain tumor patients. National Brain Tumor Society, as part of our 2018 Legislative Agenda (and as was part of our 2017 version), is requesting that Congress ensurse brain tumor patients have access to high-quality, specialized, affordable care in any change to the Affordable Care Act, and that it passes the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, so brain tumor patients who must access patient-administered anti-cancer medicines can do so affordably.

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