This study is initiated and financed  by the Nordic Cancer Union (NCU).  For NCU the contractor has been the
Norwegian Cancer Society, represented by Ole Alexander Opdalshei and John Stigum. SINTEF has been the
contractor for the participating parties in the study consortium, with the National Institute for Health and Welfare
(THL), Karolinska Institutet (KI), Dansk Sundhedsinstitut (DSI), Landspítali - The National University Hospital
of Iceland and Ministry of Health Affairs, Faroe Islands as subcontractors.
The work has been performed in collaboration of participants of all six Nordic countries. Each country has been
responsible for providing the data for their own country. SINTEF has prepared the data for analysis. All the
countries have been involved in all phases of the project, from the preparation of data collection, via  assessment
of data reliability and comparability and decisions regarding presentation of results, and in commenting on report
drafts. SINTEF has however had the main responsibility of writing the report and is responsible for any errors in
the presentation and discussion of results.
The participants from each of the countries have been:
Finland: Mikko Peltola, Kirsi Kautiainen and Unto Häkkinen, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)
Sweden: Emma Medin, Jonatan Lundgren, Clas Rehnberg, Karolinska Institutet (KI)
Denmark:Janni Kilsmark, Dansk Sundhedsinstitut (DSI)
Iceland: Birna Björg Másdóttir, María Heimisdottir, Helga Hrefna Bjarnadóttir and Jakob Jóhannsson, Landspítali,
Sigurdur Thorlacius, University of Iceland, Kristinn Tómasson, Administration of Occupational Safety and Health
in Iceland
The Faroe Islands:Jóanis Erik Køtlum, Ministry of Health Affairs
Norway: Vidar Halsteinli, Thomas Halvorsen, Birgitte Kalseth, Kjartan Anthun and Jorid Kalseth, SINTE

Costs of cancer in the Nordic countries – A comparative study of health care costs and public income loss compensation payments related to cancer in the Nordic countries in 2007

(Download the full report here from the site of the Nordic Cancer Union)


Main results:

  • The yearly treatment costs associated with cancer in the Nordic countries, including hospitals costs and costs of prescription drugs, is estimated to be about 3 billion Euros or 121 Euro per capita in 2007. The estimated cancer-related hospital costs amount to 8.3 percent of total hospital costs in the Nordic countries in 2007.
  • The yearly costs of screening programs for breast and cervical cancer are estimated to about 220 million Euros, or 9 Euro per capita. Of these, 60 percent is related to screening for breast cancer and 40 percent to screening for cervical cancer.
  • Public expenditures on sickness benefits and disability pensions are estimated to about 770 million Euros in 2007, or 31 Euro per capita. Thus the size of the estimated yearly cancer-related public expenditures on income loss compensation payments is ¼ of the estimated yearly cancer-related treatment costs.
  • The three largest sites in terms of treatment costs are breast cancer (13 percent of treatment costs), colorectal cancer (12 percent) and prostate cancer (11 percent). The costs shares of the three cancer sites can be compared to their respective shares of five-year prevalence of 19 percent for breast cancer, 12 percent for colorectal cancer and 23 percent for prostate cancer.
  • Breast cancer is also the largest site in terms of public expenditures on sickness benefits and disability pensions, accounting for 28 percent of estimated expenditures.
  • The main impression from the results of country comparisons of treatment costs of cancer is that the overall differences in per capita cancer-related costs are relatively modest. Norway is found to have the highest per capita estimated treatment costs, eight percent above Denmark. Apart from Norway, the estimated differences in per capita treatment costs are within the range of about 12 percent.
  • Country differences in per capita treatment costs can be related to both differences in cancer prevalence, activity levels and composition, and unit costs.
  • Country differences in program screening costs are large, reflecting country differences in screening programs regarding screening frequency and age-groups covered.
  • The estimated country differences in cancer-related public expenditures on sickness benefits and disability pension are substantial, with Norway on the high side and Iceland on the low side. Iceland has a mandatory insurance scheme administered by the labour unions contributing to low public expenditures.
  • Assuming unaltered cost per prevalence for cancer sites, the cancer-related treatment costs can be expected to increase by 28 percent until 2025 due to increasing cancer prevalence in the future. This amount to an annual growth of 1.3 percent or 0.9 percent per capita. This estimate does not take into account future changes in treatment costs due to innovations in technology, cancer therapy and organization of treatment, and may be on the low side.
  • Of the large cancer sites, skin, colorectal and prostate cancer are predicted to increase most.
 The Association of European Cancer Leagues implements activities which receive financial support from the European Commission under an Operating Grant from the European Union's Health Programme (2014-2020). The views expressed on our website and reports do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.
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