Each cancer case costs Quebec $32,927 - In 2013, Quebec incurred cancer costs exceeding $4.2 billion

MONTREAL, April 1, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - April is cancer month. Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec released a study today revealing that cancer's economic impact on the whole of Quebec society exceeded 4.2 billion dollars in 2013. For each cancer patient and survivor1, direct and indirect costs amount to almost $33,000, on average, per year. This prompts Coalition president Nathalie Rodrigue, T.M. to comment "that in addition to being first and foremost a human tragedy, cancer has become a veritable economic scourge".

Performed by economist Pierre Boucher at the Observatoire des services professionnels, the study analyzes Quebec's healthcare system on a 20-year horizon and examines the cost of chronic illnesses, which account for approximately 42% of Quebec's direct healthcare expenses. Cancer, now viewed as a chronic disease because of its increased incidence and extended survival time, is at the forefront. In fact, in fewer than 15 years, the number of cancer diagnoses has risen by 55% and cancer-related deaths by more than 27%. Soon, 50% of all Quebecers will be diagnosed with some form of cancer at some point in their lifetime.

The economic costs of cancer in Quebec break down as follows: 

- Financial costs of healthcare system

$631.5 M

  (establishments, physicians, drugs, healthcare)


- Loss-of-production costs

$115.5 M

- Reduced-employment-rate costs

$546.0 M

- Additional family expenses

$137.0 M

- Community-group costs

$50.3 M

- Costs incurred by informal caregivers

$221.8 M

- Premature-death-related costs

$2.508 M

 Total =

$4.2 G

Based on the number of prevalent cases (126,335), the average economic cost of cancer per patient / survivor amounts to:

- For the financial costs of the healthcare system          

$4,998

- For loss-of-production costs                                      

$914

- For reduced-employment-rate costs                         

$4,322

- For additional family expenses                                 

$1,085

- For costs incurred by informal caregivers                   

$1,756

- For premature-death costs                                    

$19,852

                                                       Average total =

$32,927

Red flag raised

This new study compared 2008 data against data gathered in 2013. Results indicate that, excluding premature-death costs, cancer's economic costs increased by one-third over five years (i.e. 6.6% per year). With respect to drugs, the increase is even greater, to the point where, if the trend continues, the Institut national d'excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) predicts that they will double over the next five years, climbing to as much as $617 M, in 2018.

In fact, the authors of the study point out that the healthcare system, in its current form, is operating on borrowed time. Failing any radical changes in our current methods for organizing, delivering and funding healthcare and services in Quebec, the collapse of our healthcare system would be more than plausible. This conclusion matches those of an increasing number of analysts including, more recently, the team members of the Chaire de recherche en fiscalité et en finances publiques de l'université de Sherbrooke (Luc Godbout, Pierre Fortin et al.) and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. 

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec is deeply concerned about the fact that these issues, however crucial for the future, are not addressed in the debates of the current election campaign. The Coalition wishes to publicly discuss the issues that are raised by cancer's impact on individuals, families and informal caregivers whose daily reality involves fighting the disease and its consequences, on a social and economical level.

Incidentally, this economic study clearly illustrates that the battle against cancer extends far beyond health. Il also involves the Quebec government as a whole, as well as employers, unions, the business sector and community settings, to name but the main ones. The Coalition believes that the time for joint action has come.

About the Coalition

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec was founded in 2001 to protect, support and give a strong voice to people affected by cancer (patients, survivors, informal caregivers, their families and their loved ones, as well as cancer-related community organizations and health professionals) and to help organize the fight against cancer. Because of the contribution of these organizations and members, the Coalition's membership represents close to 1.5 million people.


1 Prevalence based on a 5-year horizon = 126,335 patients and survivors

SOURCE Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec

For further information: Sylvie Piché, 514 868-2009 ext 225, info@unevoixforte.com; Site internet : www.unevoixforte.com; Facebook : CoalitionPrioriteCancerAuQuebec; Twitter : @CoalitionCancer