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Has medical innovation reduced cancer mortality?

  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

I analyze the effects of four types of medical innovation and cancer incidence on U.S. cancer mortality rates during the period 2000-2009, by estimating difference-in-differences models using longitudinal (annual) data on about 60 cancer sites (breast, colon, etc.). The outcome measure used is not subject to lead-time bias. I control for mean age at diagnosis, the stage distribution of patients at time of diagnosis, and the sex and race of diagnosed patients. Under the assumption that there were no pre‐dated factors that drove both innovation and mortality and that there would have been parallel trends in mortality in the absence of innovation, the estimates indicate that there were three major sources of the 13.8% decline of the age-adjusted cancer mortality rate during 2000-2009. Drug innovation and imaging innovation are estimated to have reduced the cancer mortality rate by 8.0% and 4.0%, respectively. The decline in incidence is estimated to have reduced the cancer mortality rate by 1.2%. The social value of the reductions in cancer mortality attributable to medical innovations has been enormous, and much greater than the cost of these innovations.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15880.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15880.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as “Has Medical Innovation Reduced Cancer Mortality?,” CESifo Economic Studies, published online 14 November 2013.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15880
Note: HC HE PR
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National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

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  1. Frank Lichtenberg, 2011. "The quality of medical care, behavioral risk factors, and longevity growth," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34, March.
  2. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1991. "Quality Ladders in the Theory of Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 43-61.
  3. Lichtenberg Frank R., 2008. "Pharmaceutical Innovation and U.S. Cancer Survival, 1992-2003: Evidence from Linked SEER-MEDSTAT Data," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-27, March.
  4. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2002. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Working Papers 54, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2005.
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