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Fewer tests for cancer and rational use of chemotherapy can help reduce costs, say US doctors

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3381 (Published 27 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3381
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Certain screening tests for detecting cancer in healthy people should be abandoned and more controls put in place on the use of chemotherapy in the United States, argue two senior cancer doctors.

Thomas Smith and Bruce Hillner from the Massey Cancer Center at the Virginia Commonwealth University claim that a dramatic overhaul is needed in the way that cancer care is delivered in the US because of escalating costs (New Engl J Med 2011;364:2060-65; www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsb1013826). The cost of cancer care is projected to rise from $104bn (£63bn; €73bn) in 2006 to over $173bn by 2020, a trend which is unsustainable, they say. Many treatments cost more than $5000 per month and do not deliver outcomes within commonly accepted cost effective thresholds.

Last year from Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch …

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