The cost of skin cancer is complex and related to a number of interested stakeholders with varying interests.
Preventative measures represent a way to reduce the economic burden of skin cancer.
Further research is needed to evaluate the cost difference among common treatment modalities.
The treatment of noncancerous growths represents the second largest economic expenditure in dermatology.
Indirect costs and impact on quality of life are important factors to consider in addition to the direct cost of treatment.
Dermatologists are uniquely positioned to advocate for the prevention of skin cancer through increased awareness and preventative measures.
Clinicians should consider the cost of treatment when making clinical decisions, particularly if each option results in similar health outcomes.
Radiation therapy for nonmelanoma skin cancer is on average more expensive and results in worse outcomes than alternative treatments.
The clinical location where Mohs micrographic surgery is performed influences the cost of treatment.
PATIENT EDUCATION POINTS
The widespread use of sunscreen can prevent a case of skin cancer for less than a dollar a year per person.
Internationally, many countries (Australia, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom) recommend skin cancer screening based on the risk for melanoma.
The diagnosis and subsequent treatment of earlier-stage melanoma are cheaper and result in improved patient outcomes compared with later-stage diagnosis.
The cost of treating and screening for skin cancer is complicated and multifaceted. There are a number of stakeholders who influence the cost of skin cancer, including patients, physicians, insurance providers, health care companies, politicians, and more. The interests of these parties are often at odds with one another and play a role in influencing both the microeconomic and macroeconomic environment of skin cancer.
Microeconomics is the concept of the transfer of scarce resources between individual entities, while macroeconomics deals with the aggregate behavior of all members of the market. For example, the negotiation between payer and provider for the treatment of an individual’s skin cancer is a microeconomic concept, while the aggregate cost to society of all skin cancers falls under the realm of macroeconomics. Individual transfers and negotiations are variable, depending on factors such as insurance status, geographic location, skin cancer type, skin cancer location, and more, and thus are more difficult to study. This chapter will focus on the macroeconomics of skin cancer as the majority of studies discuss aggregate data.
Another critical concept to understand before further discussing the economics of skin cancer is the idea of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs of skin cancer are those that are directly related to the treatment of skin cancer, such as office visits, procedures, and medications. Indirect costs are those incurred by the patient as a result of missing work or due to a decrease in quality of life. Although indirect costs are significant and ...