Background: Skin cancer, including melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), is the most expensive cancer in Australia, accounting for $511 million in 2010 for NMSC alone1. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of accurate information on the cost impact of skin cancer at the State level.
Aim: The study aims to estimate the cost burden to the Victorian State Government; in particular the cost of treating skin cancers in the public hospital system.
Methods: The study undertook a prevalence-based approach to estimate the cost of skin cancer management within the public hospitals. Costs were estimated separately for‘inpatient admissions’ and ‘outpatient clinic services’. Quantity of service was combined with national unit cost to develop the cost estimates. More specifically, inpatient costs were calculated by the number of admissions in Victorian public hospitals for 2012-2013, with service statistics sourced from Victorian Integrated Care Services (ICS). Outpatient costs were determined by the number of outpatient attendance at three public hospitals, where data were available for the study.
Results: In 2012-2013, there were 12,700 admissions to Victorian public hospitals, representing $42 million healthcare costs. Outpatient costs were estimated $3.3 million by approximate 14,000 clinic attendance in three Victorian public hospitals. When extrapolating from the cost estimate in each of the three hospitals to a state-wide estimate, the range varied from $6 to $13 million. Total costs, combining the inpatient and outpatient costs, incurred by the Victorian public hospitals were estimated to be $48 to $56 million in 2012-2013.
Conclusions: While these estimates are still indicative rather than comprehensive, they do provide a much clearer picture of the substantial cost impact of skin cancer in Victoria than we have had before. Proven prevention programs like SunSmart offer excellent potential to re-direct the $56 million impact on our hospitals each year to other non-preventable diseases 2.