A reconstruction of a medical history from administrative data: with an application to the cost of skin cancer
OBJECTIVES To report the burden and cost of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) treatments in Australia and to project estimates of numbers and costs to 2015. DESIGN AND SETTING Retrospective study of data obtained from Medicare Australia for NMSC treated by excision, curettage, laser or cryotherapy between 1 January 1997 and 31 December 2010, by year, sex, age group and state or territory. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Total number, total Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) benefit and total cost in Australian dollars of NMSC treatments. RESULTS The total number of NMSC treatments increased from 412 493 in 1997 to 767 347 in 2010, and we estimated that the number of treatments would increase to 938 991 (95% CI, 901 047-976 934) by 2015. The total MBS benefit for NMSC treatments in 2010 was $93.5 million, and we estimated that this will increase to $109.8 million (95% CI, $105.9-$113.7 million) by 2015, whereas the total cost with inflation (ie, cost which includes diagnosis, treatment and pathology) was $511.0 million in 2010, estimated to increase to $703.0 million (95% CI, $674.6-$731.4 million) by 2015. CONCLUSION NMSC treatments increased by 86% between 1997 and 2010. We anticipate that the number and the total cost without inflation of NMSC treatments will increase by a further 22% between 2010 and 2015. NMSC will remain the most costly cancer and place an increasing burden on the Australian health care system.