Economic burden of skin cancers in Europe

As observed by Dr Eline Noels of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, the knowledge of the economic burden of skin cancers is “essential to enable health policy decision-makers to make well-informed decisions on potential interventions and to be able to evaluate the future effect of these decisions”.

Currently there is a lack of comprehensive and updated studies providing a quantitative and updated assessment of the economic burden of skin cancers; it is true particularly for non-melanoma skin cancers due to poor collection of registered data.

Skin cancers (MM and NMSC) all together represent the 6th most costly type of cancer (after breast, colon-rectum, prostate, lymphoma, and lung cancer) and medical costs for skin cancers are expected to grow in the coming years due to a rising incidence and to the introduction of new and expensive treatments / drugs.

Two methodologies for the assessment of the medical costs

Two models are used to assess the cost-of-illness at a country or region level:

  • A top-down model where large administrative datasets (National Health Services, health insurers, regional databases, etc.) are analysed and actual costs related to skin cancers are extracted and aggregated.
  • A bottom-up model where patterns of care are defined and average yearly cost per patient is determined; to get the total national economic burden the cost-per-patient is multiplied by the prevalence of the considered disease.
    In some cases, a mixed approach is used: a specific territory is deeply analysed with a top-down approach and then the outcomes are extended to the entire country on the basis of the skin cancer prevalence rates valid for the various regions.