(Miguel Á. Padriñán, Pexels)
  • A new report by Discovery Medical Scheme found that the number of members being treated for cancer increased by 45% between 2011 and 2017. 
  • Breast cancer was the most widely cancer treated for females, and prostate cancer for men. 
  • Discovery spent 103% more on cancer treatment in 2017 than in 2011. 

Cancer diagnoses among Discovery members - the country’s largest medical insurance scheme - increased by 45% between 2011 and 2017.

A report on its healthcare claims, released by Discovery on Monday, found that in 2017, 38,295 Discovery members were being treated for cancer, or 1.39% of the scheme’s roughly 1.6 million members. 

That means 1,394 people out of a 100,000 Discovery members were being treated for cancer in 2017, compared to just 961 in 2011. 

“This increase in prevalence is due to a combination of factors including ageing of the scheme, adverse selection and the introduction of new treatments which extend for long durations,” the report reads. 

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Out of the 38 295 cases in 2017,  the most prevalent cancers were: 

  • 1,046 women with breast cancer, 49 with ovarian and 38 with cervical cancer  
  • 914 men with prostate cancer, 99 with urinary and 45 with testicular
  • 308 people with colorectal cancer 
  • 126 people with Malignant Melanoma (skin cancer)
  • 94 people with lung cancer

Prostate cancer was the most common cancer for male Discovery members and average South Africans, while lung cancer is most prevalent cancer among men globally. 

The number of Discovery members treated for prostate cancer increased by 63% from 2011 to 2017, with the average age for diagnosis being 66.8 years old. 

Breast cancer is the most treated cancer for female Discovery members, average South Africans and women globally. 

The prevalence of breast cancer increased by 42% among Discovery members, with incidents increasing significantly from the age of 40. 

(Discovery)
(Discovery)

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Discovery spent 103% more on cancer treatment the past six years - totalling R3 billion in 2017. 

“The increase is made up of a combination of factors including an increased prevalence of cancer as well as an increase in [the] cost of cancer treatment, partly due to the introduction of new high-cost treatments,” the report reads. 

The average price of cancer treatment increased by 17% from R66,339 in 2011 to R77,644 in 2017. 

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