Treating melanoma in older adults is estimated to cost approximately $249 million annually. Anne M. Seidler, M.D., M.B.A., Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, and colleagues used national databases to assess health care resource consumption by a total of 1,858 patients age 65 and older with melanoma during fiscal years 1991 to 1996.

Melanoma-related charges for older patients totaled an estimated $2,200 per month during the first four months of treatment, close to $4,000 monthly during the last six months and about $900 per month in the interim phase. Per patient, lifetime disease-related costs totaled up to $28,210 from the time of diagnosis to the time of death.

"Although relatively few patients actually die of this condition, the per-patient expenditures have particular significance in late-stage disease," the authors write. "The majority of consumption is attributable to advanced-stage disease and the terminal phase of treatment. If all patients were diagnosed and effectively treated in stage 0 or 1, we estimate that the annual direct costs for the population 65 years or older would be between $99 million and $161 million, or 40 percent to 65 percent of their current value of $249 million. Policy guidelines for melanoma screening should consider that patients 65 years or older represent an increased risk, and thus, economic burden, for later-stage melanoma."

Arch Dermatol. 2010;146[3]:249-256.

Archives of Dermatology

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