Approximately one in three Australians with cancer perceive the financial burden of prescribed medicines for cancer treatment or recovery to be moderate, heavy or extreme

Although healthcare in Australia is largely publicly funded, there are still significant out-of-pocket (OOP) costs associated with a cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival.

These can include:

  • GP and specialist gap payments
  • Scans or tests outside of the public system
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain relief and other purposes
  • Complementary medicines or therapies
  • Medical devices
  • Travel
  • Accommodation
  • Personal care (e.g. managing ulcers during radiotherapy)

The facts

  • The average lifetime cost of cancer for individuals aged 15-64 is $126,280
  • People who live outside major cities have 17 times the odds of reporting locational or financial barriers to care compared to those living in metropolitan areas.

Incidence and cost – some highlightscancer drugs cost dev

Cancer represents 19% of the disease burden in Australia and is one of the most financially impactful.

One in three Australian men and one in four Australian women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer before they turn 75

  • There are 380 new diagnoses of cancer every day in Australia
  • Prostate cancer is the most prevalent, followed by breast cancer
  • Australia has the second highest prevalence of melanoma in the world
  • 5-year survival rates range from 16% for lung cancer to 95% for prostate cancer
  • The average lifetime cost for cancer sufferers aged 15 years and older, can range from $20,360 for melanoma to $95,460 for head, neck and thyroid cancers
  • The average cost paid by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) per anticancer prescription has increased far in excess of inflation and is currently $786
  • Pharmaceutical companies can spend up to $2 billion developing new cancer treatments
  • Patients using drugs not supported by the PBS can face bills of up to $5,000 per month or more
  • Individuals facing an uncertain future will seek any source of hope, even if the efficacy of the treatments is unclear.
  • People who live outside major cities have 17 times the odds of reporting locational or financial barriers to care compared to those living in metropolitan areas
  • Around 72% of cancer carers report a negative financial impact of caring and more than half of carers who work full-time need to take leave or reduce working hours

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