In 2030, the expenditure of the Unified Health System (SUS) with patients diagnosed with bowel cancer (also called colorectal), who developed the disease due to exposure to avoidable risk factors, will be 88% greater than the amount spent in 2018. The estimate is from a study by the National Cancer Institute (Inca), in Rio de Janeiro.
Three years ago, SUS disbursed approximately R$ 545 million for hospital and outpatient procedures to treat patients with colorectal cancer, aged 30 years or more. For 2030, Inca projects that this expense could reach R$ 1 billion.
According to Inca, bowel cancer is the third most common in the Brazilian population, behind only breast and prostate cancer. Each year, around 40,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed among men and women. Of this total, about 30% are associated with behavioral factors, such as inadequate diet, smoking and sedentary lifestyle.
Inca researchers identified that risk factors related to food, nutrition and lack of physical activity were responsible for about R$ 160 million in public expenditure on colorectal cancer in 2018.
According to the study, the largest attributable expenses were with low consumption of dietary fiber (R$ 60 million), insufficient physical activity (R$ 47 million), consumption of processed meat (R$ 28 million), red meat above the recommended (R$19 million), alcoholic beverages (R$15 million) and overweight (R$12 million).
The projection shows that, in 2030, these same causes could be responsible for up to R$ 395 million in federal disbursements for this type of cancer alone.
Indirect costs of cancer
Researcher Marianna Cancela, head of the Inca’s Surveillance and Situation Analysis Division, points out that in addition to public expenditure on treatment, bowel cancer also affects the economy and society.
“We have the direct costs of cancer, those for the person, the health system and the family, and the indirect costs that affect society as a whole. If the observed trends continue, approximately 6 million potential years of life will be lost by colorectal cancer in Brazil by 2030”, says Marianna.
To estimate the impacts of bowel cancer on the country’s economy, the researchers analyzed mortality data from DataSUS (Department of Informatics of the Unified Health System). Using models, experts estimated the number of deaths from the disease and the time of life lost due to early death.
“Based on data from the IBGE, from the continuous PNAD, we calculated in some projections how much these people would not receive in terms of work. We made the estimates for the Brazilian population as a whole, considering salary values”, explained Marianna. “Considering the impacts of colorectal cancer for that decade, from 2021 to 2030, there would be 6 million years of life lost, adding up all these deaths and the time that these people stopped living”, he added.
According to the analysis, economic losses in productivity, due to death, will reach US$ 12.7 billion (about R$ 24 billion at the time of the survey), in the same decade. The estimate was made using purchasing power parity, a conversion that allows for comparisons between countries, which at the time was R$1.95.
About bowel cancer
Bowel cancer is associated with tumors that reach from the part of the large intestine called the colon and into the rectum, which is the final structure of the intestine near the anus. Hence, it is also called colon and rectum or colorectal cancer.
Inca researcher Marianna Cancela explains that the symptoms of bowel cancer can be confused with those of other diseases. The most frequent signs are blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain or discomfort, weakness and anemia, weight loss without apparent cause, change in the shape of the stool and the presence of nodules in the abdominal region .
Diagnosis can be made from biopsy, which consists of removing tissue fragments for analysis. Sample collection is done using a device introduced through the rectum, called an endoscope.
The treatment is effective and can lead to a cure, especially when the diagnosis is made at an early stage and the disease has not yet spread to other organs. In addition to surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy sessions may be necessary.
“Primary prevention strategies aimed at promoting healthy eating, maintaining adequate body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, reducing alcohol consumption and interrupting tobacco use have great potential to reduce costs associated with colorectal cancer in Brazil ”, highlighted Liz Almeida, head of the Inca Prevention and Surveillance Coordination.
Reference: CNN Brasil