Teenage smoking has been described as an “urgent” problem after new figures estimated that lung cancer costs the UK economy £2.4 billion a year.
The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) said there is a pressing need to cut teenage smoking in view of the figure presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool.
That economic cost is higher than the bill for any other type of cancer, with Oxford University researchers reporting a total of £1.6 billion for bowel cancer and £1.5 billion for breast cancer.
Each patient with lung cancer costs the UK healthcare system £9,071 a year, according to the NCRI.
And the Oxford researchers said the total cost to the UK economy for all cancers - with the respective figures including healthcare costs and the potential wage loss of patients who have died - is £15.8 billion.
Research author Dr Jose Leal, of the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford, cited the potential wage losses due to premature deaths as well as high healthcare costs as the key reasons for lung cancer’s economic impact.
“The death rate from the disease remains high at 56 deaths per 100,000 people in the UK population annually, and almost a quarter of these occur before retirement,” he explained.
Dr Leal also pointed out that his team’s research has shown that cancer affects the overall economy, not just the NHS.