-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The cost of lost
productivity among U.S. workers with cancer is equal to 20 percent
of the nation's health care spending, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed national data from 2004 to 2008 and found
that more than 3.3 million American workers are diagnosed with
cancer each year. This results in more than 33 million disability
days per year, translating to $7.5 billion in lost
Based on the average wages of workers included in the study,
disability costs due to cancer were equal to 20 percent of total
health care spending, according to the study, which was published
in the December issue of the
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Certain cancers, such as melanoma skin cancer and women's
cancers, were associated with higher costs. For example, health
care costs and hospitalizations were twice as high and disability
days 55 percent higher for workers with breast cancer, compared to
those with other cancers, according to a journal news release.
Nearly 85 percent of the workers with cancer were at companies
with fewer than 500 employees. The workers at these companies also
had higher rates of other health problems -- such as high blood
pressure, depression and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease --
and were more likely to be uninsured than those at larger
The true cost of lost productivity due to cancer is likely even
higher than the disability days examined in this study, according
to lead researcher Grant Skrepnek, of the University of Arizona
Cancer Center, in Tucson, and colleagues.
They said more needs to be done to reduce the impact that cancer
and its treatment has on productivity, such as supportive care
programs to reduce cancer-related disability.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about the
costs of cancer.
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