+ -Text Size

Economic Impact of Cancer

The financial costs of cancer are high for both the person with cancer and for society as a whole.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated the 2009 overall annual costs of cancer were as follows:

    Total cost: $216.6 billion

    Direct medical costs (total of all health expenditures): $86.6 billion

    Indirect mortality costs (cost of lost productivity due to premature death): $130 billion

PLEASE NOTE: These estimates are not comparable to those published in Cancer Facts & Figures before 2012 because in 2011, the NIH began using a different data source: the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The MEPS estimates are based on more current, nationally representative data and are used extensively in scientific publications. As a result, direct and indirect costs will no longer be projected to the current year, and estimates of indirect morbidity costs have been discontinued. For more information, please visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/factpdf.htm.

One of the major costs of cancer is cancer treatment. But lack of health insurance and other barriers to health care prevent many Americans from even getting good, basic health care.

    • According to the US Census Bureau, about 48.6 million people were uninsured in 2011.
    • About 10% of children in the United States had no health insurance coverage in 2011.

And according to Cancer Facts & Figures 2014, “Uninsured patients and those from ethnic minorities are substantially more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, when treatment can be more extensive and more costly.” In fact, this leads not only to higher medical costs, but also poorer outcomes and higher cancer death rates.

This year, about 585,720 US residents are expected to die of cancer – that’s more than 1,600 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Cancer accounts for nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States.

Cancer costs us billions of dollars. It also costs us the people we love. Reducing barriers to cancer care is critical in the fight to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer.

Contact your American Cancer Society any time, day or night, for cancer information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.


American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta, Ga. 2014.

Last Medical Review: 03/07/2014
Last Revised: 03/31/2014