A recent study published in Health Affairs presents some alarming statistics about the rates of cancer spending in the United States in comparison to Western Europe and the overall effectiveness in spending. The study discovered that the United States spends significantly more on cancer than Western Europe, and that overall, the spending resulted in less lives being saved in the United States.
Not All Bad – U.S. Excels Against 3 Common Cancers
The study looked at overall spending in both the United States and Western Europe between 1982 and 2010. It examined 12 different cancer types. For prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer, the United States spent $435 billion, $325 billion, and $434 billion more than Western Europe, respectively. These are three of the most common and deadly cancers in the world. This extra spending resulted in 67,000 fewer deaths from prostate cancer, 60,000 fewer deaths from breast cancer, and 265,000 fewer deaths from colorectal cancer than the results found in Western Europe.
For those three types of cancer, the extra spending has resulted in fewer and seems to be worth the money.
America Smokes Less, Spends More on Research, but Still Suffers More Lung Cancer Deaths
While the United States is succeeding in these types of cancer, everything seems to fall apart when it comes to lung cancer. The study by Health Affairs showed that the United States has suffered one million more deaths from lung cancer than Western Europe even though 406 billion more dollars were spent than Europe in the fight against lung cancer. What remains even more alarming about those statistics is that smoking rates have significantly dropped in the United States in comparison to Western Europe according to the World Health Organization.
1.6 Trillion Sollars More on Cancer Research and Prevention than Europe
After looking at all of the different types of cancer that the study examined, the United States had 729,000 more deaths as a result of cancer than Western Europe in the same period. This is not a drastic change, until one looks at the amount of money the United States spent to achieve this result. The US spent 1.6 trillion dollars more on cancer research and prevention than Europe.
This drastic difference in spending on cancer has forced many people to feel as though the United States’ war on cancer has been a failure up to this point. In 1971, President Nixon declared war on cancer and the debilitating effects it causes on both those suffering from it and those who have lost loved ones as a result. Since this initial declaration, the National Cancer Institute has spent over 105 billion dollars on cancer research and a large number of private organizations, corporations, and universities have spent billions upon billions of dollars on top of that.
Death Rates From Cancer Have Remained Steady for Over Half a Century
Even with all this spending and a commitment on numerous occasions by the government to end cancer once and for all, the rates of death as a result of cancer have not taken any major dips. Since 1950, death rates from cancer have fallen by only five percent. Compare the change in death rates from cancer with those of heart disease at a 64 percent fall and the flu at a 58 percent fall and the change in cancer death rates do not seem very successful. Even with this low rate of change, many news outlets and doctors continue to force the idea that cancer treatments have been enhanced and are much more efficient than they once were.
President Barack Obama vowed at the start of his presidency to spend more money on cancer research and stated that he was devoted to curing the many different forms of cancer. Since this vow, little has changed.
Is more money going to solve the problem? Or does a different approach need to be taken? One thing is for certain, the United States’ approach to cancer has not fixed the problem and something must be changed if the serious disease is to be cured.
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