Posted on February 04, 2015

Worldwide spending on cancer has now reached levels equivalent to the GDP of Hong Kong, the 35th largest economy in the world.This is just one of the shocking statistics highlighted in a new report being presented at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) later this month (17-18 February).

To mark World Cancer Day (4th February) the authors of the report are releasing early findings to help drive awareness of the global cancer burden, shining a light on the true scale of the problem and calling on governments, policymakers and healthcare organisations to tackle the rising cost of the disease. World Cancer Day is a day dedicated to raising global awareness about the disease in order to harness and mobilize solutions and bring about positive action at an individual, community and governmental level.

The WISH report will highlight that health economies worldwide are expecting increases of 16–32 percent in new cancer diagnoses over the next 10 years and projections from the US, United Kingdom and Australia suggest that cancer costs in these countries could increase by as much as 42–66 percent above current levels by 2025.

With the continual development of new treatments and high-profile debates raging about how patients are selected for expensive drugs, the report will also present evidence that in many cases cancer could be treated very differently and that there are too many instances of over-treatment and needless use of expensive technology. The report will highlight innovative projects from around the world that have driven efficiencies and improved treatments for patients.

Professor Robert J S Thomas, ‘Delivering Affordable Cancer Care’ WISH Forum Chair said: “Our aim is to develop a plan to encourage governments, policymakers and large healthcare organisations to take up and recognise the problem of affordability. It’s a really key issue for patients at all levels and it’s a key issue for governments. Everyone is worried about the high cost of cancer care. What we want is a plan which will help patients in the long term.”

Commenting on the significance of World Cancer Day, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH and Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College of London, said: “The challenge of cancer is daunting and it will intensify. World Cancer Day provides a platform for people worldwide to reflect on the impact that the disease has on millions of lives globally. As populations age, more people are developing cancer, they are surviving longer with it and treatment costs are soaring. The only way to help patients get the treatment they need is to ensure that money is spent effectively. This report brings together the greatest minds in the field of cancer care to deliver valuable insight that will help policymakers and healthcare professionals find solutions to address the significant cost and health consequences of this unforgiving disease.”

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Other key findings from the report:

  • Cancer is responsible for 5–7 percent of healthcare costs in high-income countries and reached approximately $290 billion per year in 2010
  • Cancer is the second largest contributor to the non-communicable disease burden
  • It is estimated that, from 2008 to 2030, cancer incidence will rise by 65 percent in high-income countries, 80 percent in middle-income countries, and 100 percent in the world’s poorest countries
  • There were 13.3 million new cases of cancer in 2010, with the number projected to rise to 21.5 million in 2030

Through its support of World Cancer Day, WISH highlights Qatar Foundation’s (QF) mission to inspire and promote healthcare development and reform through a global network of high-level policymakers, academics and industry leaders. It remains closely aligned to the vision and mission of QF to unlock human potential and underscore Qatar’s pioneering role as an emerging center for healthcare innovation.

For more information about WISH or the 2015 Summit, please visit

Watch Prof. Robert Thomas introduce his WISH 2015 report on Affordable Cancer Care

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