Cancer cost the then 27 countries of the European Union 126 billion euros ($170.1 billion) in 2009, according to a study published on Monday.

The bill mainly comprised 51 billion euros in costs for health-scare systems, including drugs; 23 billion euros in unpaid care provided by friends and relatives of people with cancer; and 52 billion euros in lost productivity due to premature deaths and illness.

Britain, France, Germany and Italy accounted for most than two-thirds of the cost.

Four types of cancer -- breast, colorectal, lung and prostate -- contributed to around half of all new cancer diagnoses and deaths.

Lung cancer had the highest overall cost, of 18.8 billion euros, and was also responsible for the biggest loss of productivity.

The analysis should be useful for policymakers weighing decisions on where to allocate research funds, drugs and human resources, said researcher Ramon Luengo-Fernandez of the University of Oxford.

The study appears in The Lancet Oncology.

 

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