An area of cancer care that has received little attention so far is the high cost associated with complications that may arise during cancer treatment.
According to a new research, although complications from surgical care for cancer patients may seem infrequent, the costs associated with such outcomes are extremely high.
"It is widely known that outcomes after cancer surgery vary widely, depending on interactions between patient, tumour, neo-adjuvant therapy and provider factors," said Marah Short, a senior research analyst at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.
"In our study, we found consistently higher costs associated with cancer surgery complications. Improved patient outcomes and substantial health care savings could be achieved by targeting these complicating factors for quality improvement," Short added.
The findings came against the backdrop of rising cancer care costs in the US, which were estimated at $124.6 billion in 2010 and could rise by 66 percent to $207 billion by 2020, said the study published in the journal Cancer.
In cancer treatment, unlike many benign conditions, there tends to be a higher threshold of tolerance for complications, the authors said.
In their study, they used the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Patient Safety Indicators' (PSIs) definitions to identify patient safety-related complications in Medicare claims data.
"The data we found indicate that even in the complex cancer care environment, improvements in patient safety indicators are highly likely to reduce costs," said Thomas Aloia, an associate professor in the MD Anderson Cancer Centre's Department of Surgical Oncology.