Cancer Is The World's Top 'Economic Killer,' Report Finds

"Cancer is the world's top 'economic killer' as well as its likely leading cause of death, the American Cancer Society contends in a new report it will present at a global cancer conference in China this week.

Cancer costs more in productivity and lost life than AIDS, malaria, the flu and other diseases that spread person-to-person, the report concludes. Chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes account for more than 60 percent of deaths worldwide but less than 3 percent of public and private funding for global health, said Rachel Nugent of the Center for Global Development, a Washington-based policy research group. ... Cancer's economic toll was $895 billion in 2008 -- equivalent to 1.5 percent of the world's gross domestic product, the report says. That's in terms of disability and years of life lost -- not the cost of treating the disease, which wasn't addressed in the report" (Marchione, 8/16).
Reuters: "The National Institutes of Health named a committee on Monday to help guide research into the environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer. The 19-member Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee will meet in September to help decide where research money will be best spent." Last year, Congress mandated the panel (8/16).

The Fiscal Times: "Late last week, the Food and Drug Administration received a letter from Susan B. Komen for the Cure ... demanding the agency maintain its approval of Genentech's Avastin for women with life-threatening metastatic breast cancer. ... Lawmakers have also sent warning letters to the FDA. ... Women's access to the drug isn't at stake - at least for those with money. Avastin, designed to restrict the formation of new blood vessels that feed nutrients to fast-growing cancer tumors, has clearly shown its benefit for colorectal cancer, so it will stay on the market. Any physician can prescribe an approved drug for any condition if he or she thinks it will benefit the patient. But an FDA decision to pull back its specific approval for the breast cancer indication would allow (not require) insurers - including Medicare and Medicaid - to reject paying for the Avastin, whose annual costs can reach $100,000 a year for those who live that long" (Goozner, 8/16).

This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at

BY Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

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