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Cancer Treatments: To Cost $158 Billion By 2020?

Medical expenditures for cancer are projected to reach at least $158 billion in today’s dollars by 2020. That’s a 27 percent increase, assuming that incidence and treatment costs remain at 2010 levels, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) analysis of growth and aging of the U.S. population.

But new diagnostic tools and treatments could raise medical expenditures as high as $207 billion, assuming that the costs of new treatments increases 5 percent, said the researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the NIH. The analysis appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Recent trends reflect a 2 percent annual increase in medical costs in the initial and final phases of care, which would boost projected 2020 costs to $173 billion.Chart generated at of expenses, assuming steady incidence and survival rates and no increase in treatment costs

Projections were based on the most recent data available on cancer incidence, survival and costs of care. In 2010, medical costs associated with cancer were projected to reach $127.6 billion, with the highest costs associated with breast cancer ($16.5 billion), followed by colorectal cancer ($14 billion), lymphoma ($12 billion), lung cancer ($12 billion) and prostate cancer ($12 billion). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Public Service: Does Having An Opinion Disqualify You?

Many conservatives are up-in-arms about President Obama’s decision to appoint Don Berwick, a pediatrician and renowned expert in quality improvement and patient safety, to lead the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They object to Dr. Berwick’s views on a range of issues, and to Obama’s decision to use his office’s authority to appoint Dr. Berwick while the Senate was out on a short Independence Day holiday recess. As a “recess appointment,” Dr. Berwick was able to take office without Senate hearings and confirmation, but he can only serve through the end of the 111th Congress — that is, until the end of 2011 — unless ratified by the Senate.

Berwick, though, also has many supporters. Maggie Mahar articulates the “pro” viewpoint on Dr. Berwick’s appointment in a recent Health Beat post. She observes that two former CMS administrators who served in Republican administrations have commented positively about Dr. Berwick’s qualifications. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Heart Attacks Are Killing Fewer People: Why?

Heart attack mortality fell by nearly a half a percent last year at 4,500 hospitals that treat Medicare patients. And, facilities with the lowest and highest death rates saw similar declines, according to a new hospital report card by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Heart attack mortality fell from a national average of 16.6 percent last year to 16.2 percent, with a range among all facilities from 14.5 percent to 17.9 percent. CMS released the data as part of its hospital report card effort to spur better quality and outcomes through public reporting of recommended treatments. The agency added heart attack and heart failure mortality to the report card three years ago.

At issue now is what’s driving the figures: public reporting of hospital data driving improvement, or faster door-to-balloon-treatment times. Areas that do need to improve include lowering readmissions and getting people to the hospital faster when they have a heart attack. (USA Today)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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