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.