Lung cancer is the leading cause of mortality in China. In 2015, China recorded 610,200 lung cancer deaths.
The objective of this paper is to estimate the economic costs of lung cancer in China.
The economic costs of lung cancer include direct medical costs, direct non-medical costs, indirect morbidity costs, and indirect mortality costs. Indirect morbidity and mortality costs (loss of productivity to the society) are estimated using the human capital approach. Six cities in China were selected to represent the country's economic and geographic distribution. The study sample includes 1,244 lung cancer patients randomly selected from major Chinese hospitals in 2014-2015.
The estimated total national medical cost of treating lung cancer patients in China was 64.21 billion RMB (US$ 10.31 billion), about 2% of total medical costs in 2015. Total lung cancer costs in 2015 were 488.53 billion RMB (US$ 78.42 billion), about 75% of which can be attributed to mortality costs.
Two-thirds of the lung cancer patients in the sample were either current or former smokers. The major economic costs of lung cancer among smokers are preventable. China has a relatively low cigarette tax rate. Raising the tobacco tax and engaging in other tobacco control programs not only would reduce future lung cancer patient incidence, thus will also reduce lung cancer costs in China.