The economic burden of Mesothelioma


Mesothelioma is one of the most devastating forms of cancer around. It has high mortality rates and low survival rates. It’s also a fact that 80% of all those cases come from asbestos exposure. But what few people talk about is the economic burden that comes with mesothelioma.

What is the economic burden of mesothelioma?

An Overview of the Economic Burden

To start with, we need to discuss exactly how an economic burden is calculated in relation to mesothelioma. There are many aspects that go into determining how big of a problem mesothelioma is.

In general, the economic burden is calculated based on: health care costs, loss of productivity, output costs, and the costs to quality of life. These four things together determine just how much this type of cancer takes away from the country every year.

Let’s look at a Canadian study. They measured mesothelioma and lung cancer together, but we can still draw many conclusions here.

The study revealed that the economic burden for new cases are about $831 million CAD. Over the course of a lifetime this will cost $1.5 billion CAD for ongoing cases. That’s just an example of how critical the economic burden is.

Why Healthcare Costs are So High

Health care costs relating to mesothelioma are so high because of the complexity of treatment. The organization has spent a lot of time delving into the complexities of treatment. So far there’s no real cure for mesothelioma and survival rates are still low.

They go through many treatment options and detail the disappointing results from individual surgeries. They advocate that the best treatment is trimodality treatment, which consists of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Employing all three treatments is extremely expensive.

The Importance of a Loss of Productivity

It’s a myth that of the 2,500 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma each year most of them are in their twilight years. The latency period of mesothelioma can take as long as 50 years. For some workers exposed to asbestos, they might even die long before they’re ever diagnosed with mesothelioma.

But the disease can also manifest itself in as little as twenty years. An 18-year-old could have been exposed to asbestos and could be diagnosed with mesothelioma before they turn 40. There’s no reason to believe they’re already out of the workforce by that point.

Thousands of able-bodied workers suffering from mesothelioma means a big loss in productivity for individuals, companies, and entire countries.

That also impacts the output of a country, which also increases the economic burden.

How a Lack of Quality of Life is a Problem

You may not think that a drop in quality of life is a problem for anyone but the individual. But organizations like Surviving Mesothelioma see it otherwise. They detail the serious consequences of advanced and aggressive mesothelioma on their site. It’s not difficult to see why quality of life costs could come into play.

Take for example someone who may have less than six months to live. They’re unable to perform even light physical activity. It could mean that they’re unable to climb the steps and must be moved into a condo on the bottom floor.

In many countries, this falls to the government to cover the cost, rather than the individual. Situations like this are common and they all add to the economic burden of mesothelioma.

And even in countries like the US, where government help is practically non-existent, it still causes a huge economic burden. Many patients either must borrow money or simply default on debts to cover their care and any lifestyle changes.

So, What’s the Value in Calculating the Economic Burden?

These studies are important because they show governments why they must not only outlaw asbestos but to remodel buildings that still have asbestos in their construction. This makes the economic case for taking action. By investing in clearance now, governments can save millions in the long-term.

Not only does this raise awareness of mesothelioma, but it goes a long way to preventing further exposure and further mesothelioma cases further down the line.

Do you think it’s important to manage the economic burden of mesothelioma?

Author Bio: Victoria Heckstall is a professional writer that brings attention to topics that she feels doesn’t receive enough coverage.