The costs associated with diagnostic imaging are increasing faster than the cost of cancer care in the U.S., but the “contribution of imaging to cancer care costs pales in comparison to other key components such as cancer drugs,” according to a study in the latest issue of The Journal of Internal Medicine.
Authors Yang Yang and Johannes Czernin at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that PET/CT scans accounted for just 1.5 percent of overall Medicare cancer care costs in 2009. They also estimated that PET contributed 21 percent to Medicare imaging costs as a whole, amounting to the largest annual growth rates than any other type of imaging.
Medicare spent approximately $327 billion in 2006, with cancer care under fee-for-service amounting to roughly 10 percent or $32.1 billion, according to the researchers. While the study authors put PET in perspective with other health care cost drivers, they argue that reducing inappropriate use could further reduce costs.
To view the study abstract click here.