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Cost of cancer in the UK is over £15 billion a year

The health and economic cost of cancer is over £15 billion a year in the UK- research by Oxford University calculates.Cost of cancer in the UK is over £15 billion a yearThey said half of the sum related to the economic losses from early deaths and patients taking time off work.

They believe the findings could help identify which areas offer the best returns from investment in research.

Lung cancer was the most expensive cancer, costing £2.4 billion a year, bowel cancer cost £1.6 billion, breast cancer £1.5 billion and prostate cancer £800 million.

The study, The economic burden of cancer across the European Union which is being presented to the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Liverpool last week, looked at economic losses, health care costs and the burden of unpaid care provided by friends and family.

The £15.8 billion total for all cancers included £7.6 billion in economic costs, £5.6 billion for health and £2.6 billion for unpaid care.

Lead researcher Dr Jose Leal said: “Our research shows that cancer impacts on the economy as a whole – and not just the health service.  Premature deaths, time off work and unpaid care by friends and family account for 64% of all cancer costs.”

“These wider costs should be taken into account when deciding research priorities.  Cancers with the highest economic cost could offer the highest expected returns from investment in research.”

NCRI director Dr Jane Cope said: “These figures remind us that cancer has a cost, not just in professional health care but also in loss of earnings for patients and loved ones who give up work to look after them.”

Jean King, director of tobacco control at Cancer Research UK, said the research was further proof of the need to tackle smoking, particularly among the young.

“Stopping young people taking up this deadly addiction in the first place will not only reduce the number of lung cancer cases in the future but a range of other illnesses that continue to blight the lives of so many people,” she added.

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