Cancer costs SE Asia socially, economically

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The rising prevalence of cancer will become an overwhelming burden on society and healthcare systems across Southeast Asia if immediate action is not taken, a new study by the George Institute for Global Health shows.

Released in Indonesia on Thursday, the results of the study conducted in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos suggested that aging populations and the rising cancer burden were leading to a risk of cancer becoming an epidemic that could devastate the region.

The ASEAN Costs in Oncology (ACTION) study, which was conducted between 2012 and 2014, examined the cost of cancer treatment for 9,513 patients in the eight countries. It aimed at assessing the impact of cancer on household economic wellbeing, patient survival and quality of life.

It revealed that of the 9,513 cancer patients, after 12 months, 48 percent experienced financial catastrophe and 29 percent had passed away. Financial catastrophe is defined as having to spend 30 percent or more of household income on out-of-pocket expenses for cancer treatment.

Additionally, 44 percent of the patients who survived experienced economic hardship as a consequence of their cancer, of which a majority ended up using their life savings.

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