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State-Level Variation Noted in Economic Burden of Cancer

Lost earnings of $94.4 billion reported in the United States in 2015

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FRIDAY, July 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- There is considerable state-level variation in the economic burden of cancer, according to a study published online July 3 in JAMA Oncology.

Farhad Islami, M.D., Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues calculated the person-years of life lost (PYLL) using the number of cancer deaths and life expectancy data for individuals aged 16 to 84 years who died from cancer in the United States in 2015. A monetary value for each PYLL was assigned using the annual median U.S. earnings.

The researchers found that in the United States in 2015, 8,739,939 person-years of life were lost to cancer death in persons aged 16 to 84 years, with lost earnings of $94.4 billion. For individual cancer sites, the highest lost earnings were seen for lung, colorectal, female breast, and pancreatic cancer ($21.3 billion, $9.4 billion, $6.2 billion, and $6.1 billion, respectively). The age-standardized lost earning rates were lowest and highest in the West and South, respectively, varying from $19.6 million per 100,000 in Utah to $35.3 million in Kentucky. If all states had the same age-specific PYLL or lost earning rates as Utah, about 2.4 million PYLL and $27.7 billion in lost earnings could have been avoided in 2015.

"By quantifying the economic burden of premature mortality due to cancer, our findings highlight state-level disparities and indicate that preventing premature cancer deaths would have substantial economic benefit nationally and for all states," the authors write.

The authors are employed by the American Cancer Society, which received a grant from Merck for intramural research outside the submitted work.

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