Queensland Study Exposes Cancer Treatment Costs

The crippling cost of some cancer treatments have been exposed in a new Queensland study. It shows many patients are being slugged thousands in out-of-pocket expenses, compounding the emotional burden.

New research has exposed Queensland's costliest cancers, with many patients slugged thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

Breast cancer sufferers pay the most in median out-of-pocket expenses ($4,192) followed by prostate cancer ($3,175).

"There's a lot of different types of tests and procedures involved in both breast and prostate cancer and over time, these really add up," QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Associate Louisa Professor Gordon said.

The study analysed data from 452 patients who were diagnosed with cancer over a two year period.

"It may not be that a patient is necessarily charged a great amount by one doctor - it may just be a few hundred here or a thousand there - but it's the accumulated cost of their cancer over time," said Associate Professor Gordon.

The study did not take into account a range of other costs associated with treatment, including fees for travel, parking and lost income.

Cancer patient John Edwards had to give up work and temporarily relocate from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane to receive treatment for throat cancer.

"Being the major self-employed income earner of a family, it's a disaster. Most people don't realise what the actual costs are of not being able to work," said Edwards.

Cancer Council Queensland has called on the government to ensure that subsidised health services are widely available across the state, to reduce the travel burden on patients.

"Trying to get treatment centres closer to people is a difficult one for the government, but the more that can be done to ensure that the treatment is local, the better the outcome for the individual, said Cancer Council Queensland chief executive Chris McMillian.

McMillan says there is also a need for greater transparency in the way that doctor's fees are structured to help level the playing field, but says it's ultimately up to patients to take charge.

"What we do urge people to do is to ask the questions beforehand and to have a conversation around what you can afford and what would be the best treatment that is going to give you the best outcome," she said.