The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is costing taxpayers half a billion dollars a year, according to a Health Ministry report.
More than 25,000 cases of cancer registered in 2008 are assessed in the report, which finds breast cancer to be the most costly at $77 million a year, followed by colorectal and anal cancers and lymphoid and haematological cancers.
The average single case of cancer costs $20,372 to treat over six years. That sum covers a patient's stay in hospital, surgery, treatment, pharmacy dispensing and outpatient services.
The report says an increasing and ageing population is expected to push up costs by $117 million in the next 10 years.
The cost impact of new and expensive treatments is yet to be determined.