From 2020 to 2050, the global economic cost of cancers is projected to be $25.2 trillion in international dollars (INT), according to data published in JAMA Oncology.1
North America is the region projected to have the greatest cost, and China is the country expected to have the greatest cost. The highest cost by cancer type is projected for cancers of the trachea, bronchus, and lung.
To make these projections, researchers used a macroeconomic model. They projected the cost of 29 cancers in 204 countries and territories between 2020 and 2050.
The researchers projected that China will have the largest economic cost (INT $6.1 trillion), followed by the United States (INT $5.3 trillion) and India (INT $1.4 trillion).
Bulgaria is projected to have the highest economic cost as a share of gross domestic product (1.42%), followed by Monaco (1.33%) and Montenegro (1.09%). The projected per-capita economic cost is highest for Monaco (INT $85,230), Ireland (INT $54,009), and Bermuda (INT $20,732).
By region, North America is projected to have the highest economic burden from cancers as a percentage of gross domestic product — equivalent to an annual tax of 0.83%. This is followed by Europe and Central Asia (0.63%), East Asia and Pacific (0.59%), and Sub-Saharan Africa (0.24%).
By cancer type, the highest economic cost is projected for:
- Cancers of the trachea, bronchus, and lung (INT $3.9 trillion)
- Colon and rectum cancer (INT $2.8 trillion)
- Breast cancer (INT $2.0 trillion)
- Liver cancer (INT $1.7 trillion)
- Leukemia (INT $1.6 trillion).
Together, these cancers account for half of the global economic cost of cancers, the researchers noted.
“[T]he macroeconomic cost of cancers was found to be substantial and distributed heterogeneously across cancer types, countries, and world regions,” the researchers wrote. “The findings suggest that global efforts to curb the ongoing burden of cancers are warranted.”
A related editorial highlighted some limitations of this study, including that data were missing for 60 countries, which was 7.3% of the total population.2
Disclosures: The study authors reported having no conflicts of interest. The editorial author declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original references for a full list of disclosures.
1. Chen S, Cao Z, Prettner K, et al. Estimates and projections of the global economic cost of 29 cancers in 204 countries and territories from 2020 to 2050. JAMA Oncol. Published online February 23, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.7826
2. Lopes G. The global economic cost of cancer—estimating it is just the first step! JAMA Oncol. Published online February 23, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.7133