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High cost of cancer treatment doesn’t reflect benefits, say specialists

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6220 (Published 27 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6220
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Care of patients with cancer has become “a culture of excess” in rich countries, says a team of specialists assembled by the Lancet. “We overdiagnose, overtreat, and overpromise. We are heading towards a crisis in medical-care delivery,” they say.

The report of the 37 strong commission, headed by Richard Sullivan from King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre in London, is uncompromising (Lancet Oncology 2011;12:933-80, doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70141-3). It says that expensive new drugs often contribute modest benefits while imposing huge cost burdens.

Surgery, the mainstay of cancer care, is going the same way, with the increasing use of robot assisted surgery that drives costs up with no …

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