Australians battling youth cancer brings a $1.3 million price tag

January 29, 2018

A new report released by Canteen and Deloitte Access Economics reveals the true economic impact that comes from young Australians being diagnosed with cancer.

 The ‘Economic Cost of Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults’ report reveals that young Australians diagnosed with cancer will incur $1.3 million each in costs related to the illness.1 This includes more than $134,000 in health system costs, $418,000 in lost productivity and $644,000 in burden of disease costs.1

Each year, approximately 1,100 young Australians (aged 15-25 years) are diagnosed with cancer.

Fiona McDonald, Research Manager at Canteen, says the report brings to light the challenges young Australians face during a critical time in their emotional and physical development which can be disrupted through the diagnosis of cancer.

“Cancer unexpectedly forces adolescents and young adults to grow up too fast. Usually this is a time when young people develop independence, fulfil their education goals, begin careers and lay foundations to relationships.

“A cancer diagnosis can interrupt development in different and lasting ways. Some become reliant on parents, some lose their identity and others feel their emotional maturity is slowed. On top of this, there is a huge economic burden associated with the life-changing diagnosis, which individuals, families and the whole of society bears.”

Fertility preservation

The report recognises that some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause temporary or even permanent infertility1. This is particularly relevant to adolescents and young adults who have rarely considered having children.1 The report reveals that up to three quarters of adolescents and young adults with cancer will have a consultation with a fertility expert and, on average, fertility preservation will cost almost $3,200 per person.1

Productivity at work

According to the report, which includes studies from both Australia and overseas, being diagnosed with cancer can affect individuals’ productivity or capacity to work, both in the long- and short-term. One study reviewed found that up to seven in 10 men and half of women diagnosed with cancer during adolescence or young adulthood had reduced participation in employment. The total lifetime productivity cost to Australians was estimated to be $460,000 per young person diagnosed with cancer.1 This comprises costs such as temporary absence from work, leaving the workforce and premature death.1

Interruptions in education, training and employment can have lasting effects on energy, memory and ability to concentrate, with reduced income over time. Survivors of childhood cancer are almost 20 per cent less likely to have a high school or tertiary qualification.

Canteen has developed a framework to tackle the recommendations from the Deloitte Access Economics report and help young Australians overcome the unexpected and life-altering challenge of facing cancer during such a transformative stage of life. The new framework includes the state-of-the-art ‘Getting Cancer Young’ YouTube channel, aimed at providing support to patients and families across Australia by connecting them online.

“The framework highlights key research priorities and provides direction for relevant health policy, so that we can adequately care for young people with cancer and their families,” said David Roder, Chair of the Youth Cancer Services Data Advisory Group.

“More research trials are needed to obtain the best evidence. Also, our health services and the health of young people and their families need to be monitored to ensure that this evidence is bringing the expected health benefits.

“As a nation, we must plan for a changing healthcare environment that adapts to emerging technologies, e-health and the impact of personalised medicine,” he said.

Canteen’s Fiona McDonald explained that the effects of cancer and the burden of cost continues long after treatment has finished.

“Fear and anxiety of the cancer returning can have a lasting impact on a person’s mind,” she said.

“Canteen is dedicated to providing support for young Australians when cancer turns their world upside down. I’d urge all young Australians living with a cancer diagnosis – and their family and friends – to remember they are not alone, and head to the Getting Cancer Young YouTube channel.”

To read the full Deloitte Access Economics report, click here.




Canteen media contact: Ali Morgan, Marketing and Communications Manager

0423 003 798


About Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults

Every day around 63 young people (aged 12-25 years) are confronted with a cancer diagnosis – whether it is their own or that of a parent, brother or sister.1,3 One in 125 Australians are diagnosed with cancer by the age of 30.4

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in young people, accounting for 10 per cent of deaths.4  In comparison with other young people, adolescent and young adult cancer survivors have a greater prevalence of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, disability, asthma and diabetes.5

Positively, cancer survival rates are at an all-time high with an 88 per cent 5-year relative survival rate for 15-29 year olds.6 However, a number of complications, comorbidities and late effects can surface from a cancer diagnosis, even long after the cancer has disappeared. From the cancer itself or side-effects of treatment, these life-long effects can be both physical and mental.7



  1. Canteen Australia (2017) Australian Youth Cancer Framework for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer.
  2. Langeveld NE, Ubbink MC, Last BF, Grootenhuis MA, Voûte PA, De Haan RJ 2003, ‘Educational achievement, employment and living situation in long-term young adult survivors of childhood cancer in the Netherlands’, Psycho-Oncology, 12: 213-225.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011. Census Quick Stats. Retrieved
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2011. ACIM (Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality) Books. AIHW: Canberra.
  5. Tai E, et al. (2012) Health status of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. Cancer. 2012 Oct 1;118(19):4884-91. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27445. Epub 2012 Jun 11.
  6. Deloitte Access Economics calculations based on AIHW (2011) and AIHW (2012).
  7. American Cancer Society 2016a, Treatments and Side Effects,, accessed 30 June 2016.