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In China, stomach cancer is the third most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death. Few studies have examined Chinese stomach cancer patients’ medical expenses and their associated trends. The Cancer Screening Program in Urban China (CanSPUC) is a Major Public Health Project funded by the central government. Through this project, we have extracted patients’ medical expenses from hospital billing data to examine the costs of the first course treatments (which refers to 2 months before and 10 months after the date of cancer diagnosis) in Chinese patients with stomach cancer and the associated trends.
The expense data of 14,692 urban Chinese patients with stomach cancer were collected from 40 hospitals in 13 provinces. We estimated the inflation-adjusted medical expenses per patient during 2002–2011. We described the time trends of medical expenses at the country-level, and those trends by subgroup, and analyzed the compositions of medical expenses. We constructed the Generalized Linear Mixed (GLM) regression model with Poisson distribution to examine the factors that were associated with medical expenses per patient.
The average medical expenses of the first course treatments were about 43,249 CNY (6851 USD) in 2011, more than twice of that in 2002. The expenses increased by an average annual rate of 7.4%. Longer stay during hospitalization and an increased number of episodes of care are the two main contributors to the expense increase. The upward trend of medical expenses was observed in almost all patient subgroups. Drug expenses accounted for over half of the medical expenses.
The average medical expenses of the first course (2 months before and 10 months after the date of cancer diagnosis) treatments per stomach cancer patient in urban China in 2011 were doubled during the previous 10 years, and about twice as high as the per capita disposable income of urban households in the same year. Such high expenses indicate that it makes economic sense to invest in cancer prevention and control in China.