The Promise of Cancer Immunotherapies
November 2015

Dr. Kristina M. Lybecker
Professor of Economics at Colorado College
Ward Health Associate

Globally, cancer is the leading cause of death for those under 85 years of age. According to a recent article in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, cancer annually accounts for approximately 7.6 million deaths worldwide. In the United States, that equates to close to one in four of all deaths, or about 1,500 deaths each day. Estimates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that the overall costs of cancer for the United States in 2007 were $226.8 billion, comprised of $103.8 billion in direct medical costs and $123.0 billion in lost productivity costs. Cancer is arguably one of the most urgent health problems we currently face and oncology immunotherapies are the most promising of recent medical developments in the battle against cancer, offering the possibility of long-term quality survival to patients. 

This paper describes how beneficial immunotherapies can be, especially where triple combination therapies are concerned. Immuno-oncology therapies hold the potential to make cancer a manageable disease for many patients. We now need to confront the budgetary issue within our increasingly resource-constrained health care systems. We stand to see long-term quality survival for patients and overall cost savings to the health care system if we stay this course, as we are on the brink of seeing advances in the treatment of numerous types of cancer.