Patient economic burden associated with cancer care was projected to be $21.1 billion in 2019, according to a report published online Oct. 26 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Y. Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Kennesaw, Georgia, and colleagues quantified patient economic burden, including out-of-pocket and patient-time costs, associated with cancer care for the 21 most common cancer sites.

The researchers found that the annualized net out-of-pocket costs for medical services and prescription drugs covered through a pharmacy benefit were highest in the initial ($2,200 and $243, respectively) and end-of-life ($3,823 and $448, respectively) phases and lowest in the continuing phase ($466 and $127, respectively) among adults aged 65 years and older across all cancer sites; considerable variation was seen by cancer site. Patients diagnosed with later-stage disease generally had higher out-of-pocket costs. For adults aged 18 to 64 years and ≥65 years, net annual time costs associated with cancer were $304.3 and $279.1, respectively, with higher time costs among more recently diagnosed survivors. In 2019, the national patient economic burden associated with cancer care was projected to be $21.1 billion.

“In the modern era of cancer research, we have to think about treatment costs and how they impact our patients,” Norman E. Sharpless, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute, said in a statement. “As exciting and promising as cancer research is, we are keenly aware of the issue of financial toxicity for these patients.”