Aim: To estimate the productivity costs of premature mortality due to cancer in Australia, in aggregate and for the 26 most prevalent cancer sites.
Methods: A human capital approach was adopted to estimate the long term impacts of Australian cancer deaths in 2003. Using population mortality data, the labour force participation and the present value of lifetime income (PVLI) forgone due to premature mortality was estimated based on individual characteristics at the time of death including age, sex and socioeconomic status. Outcomes were modelled to the year 2030 using economic data from a national microsimulation model. A discount rate of 3% was applied and costs were reported in 2016 Australian dollars.
Results: Premature deaths from cancer in 2003 resulted in 88,000 working years lost and a cost of $4.2 billion in the PVLI forgone. Costs were close to three times higher in males than females due to the higher number of premature deaths in men, combined with higher levels of workforce participation and income. Lung, colorectal and brain cancers accounted for the highest proportion of costs, while testicular cancer was the most costly cancer site per death.
Conclusions: The productivity costs of premature mortality due to cancer are significant. These results provide an economic measure of the cancer burden which may assist decision makers in allocating scare resources amongst competing priorities.