MCC Limited Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies
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Premier multi-disciplinary autonomous public research organization

Economic Burden of Cancer in Bangladesh

Cancer is an overwhelming public health problem in Bangladesh.  Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumors and neoplasms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs; the latter process is referred to as metastasis (WHO, 2022). The health burden of cancer is high. According to the latest survey, the prevalence of cancer in Bangladesh was 0.71 per 1000 population (BBS,2013). There are 13 to 15 lakh existing cancer patients in Bangladesh, with about 2 lakh patients newly diagnosed with cancer each year (Hussain, 2013). According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, it was estimated that in 2020, about 156, 775 individual were newly diagnosed with cancer while about 108,990 people died due to various cancers in Bangladesh (Globocan, 2020). The financial burden of cancer is also massive. Cancer has a negative impact on people’s health and life and on economies around the world. Today, studies on the economic burden of diseases are valuable because of the rising costs of cancer diagnosis and treatment. From an economic perspective, the ever-increasing number of patients and the complications of the disease have imposed significant direct medical and indirect costs on patients, the health system and the government. Many of these patients bear catastrophic health expenditure. As far as the economic burden of direct medical costs is concerned, the costs vary with the age of the patient, types of cancers, the severity of the disease, mean length of stay in the hospital, mean length of stay in the ICU, and other various factors. Indeed, cancer and its treatment result in the loss of economic resources and opportunities for patients, families, employers, and the society overall.

However, data regarding economic burden of cancer among the Bangladeshi population are scarce. Therefore, it is important to estimate and calculate the economic burden of cancer not only for patients and their families but also for the healthcare system and societal perspective. This will be a hospital-based cross-sectional study. The main objective of this study is to estimate the economic burden of cancer patients in Bangladesh. Examining the economic dimensions of the disease through this research will provide important evidence for making socioeconomic policies related to cancer and similar devastating NCDs. The specific objectives of the study are:

1) To find out the direct and indirect cost of treating cancer from households’ perspective  

2) To assess the financing strategies during cancer treatment from households’ perspective

3) To estimate the annual cost of illness due to cancer from societal perspective 

Lack of awareness and negligence may increase both of the health and economic burden to the family and society at large. Cancer is a disease for a person but a problem for the family, society & nation as well as for the world. This disease burden is a symbol of social disaster for the family from both health & economic point of view. A person and a family should be aware of such an unpredictable health problem due to its high treatment cost & long-term sufferings. It can be prevented, detected & treated adequately if individuals are well aware of the risk factors, food habits, and lifestyles. Although the costs of cancer have been reported in different countries around the world, still to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, there has been no study measuring the economic burden of cancer in Bangladesh focusing societal viewpoint. This study is planned to fill this knowledge gap in this context and will also identify various costs associated with healthcare utilization, such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care and costs related to patient’s loss of productivity.

Project Director: Abdur Razzaque Sarker, MSS, MHE, PhD

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