Creative Commons License

ASCO Raising Awareness for Rising Costs of Cancer

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 06:10 PM EDT

Costs related to health care remain a strong topic of debate in the United States. As new medications and treatment technologies continue to become available, the costs associated with health care are expected to rise.

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) estimates that cancer care costs are growing at a rate of 15 percent each year. Given that 33 percent of families faced with paying for cancer care have difficulty making payments, ASCO has become increasingly concerned about these rising cancer care costs.

In an effort to minimize cost-related hurdles facing cancer patients, ASCO has established a Cost of Care Task Force. The goals of the Force will be to identify challenges concerning cost of cancer care, and subsequently develop solutions to overcome these challenges.

ASCO’s tactics for tackling costs of cancer care begin at the patient-physician level. The four main components of the Guidance Statement for the Task Force are as follows:

Promote patient-physician discussions of cost when discussing potential treatment options (presently, only 37 percent of oncologists “always” discuss costs with patients, according to a recent ASCO survey)
Promote the availability of educational and support tools for oncologists to aid in cost discussions with patients
Provide educational materials directly to patients, through such documents as ASCO’s Managing the Cost of Cancer Care Booklet
Address underlying factors related to rising costs of cancer care

In addition to working within the current system, ASCO is also a vocal organization in Washington D.C. Representatives of the organization are continually working with others in the cancer community to change legislation to improve insurance coverage and other key components related to cancer costs.