Cancer accounted for 6 per cent of allocated recurrent health system expenditure in 2008–09, when $4.5 billion was spent on direct costs. A significant portion of the direct costs associated with cancer are due to medical treatment. Chemotherapy, 182radiotherapy and surgery are commonly used to treat cancer and cost a significant amount. Individuals may make co-payments for these services, but these procedures are often carried out in hospitals, with Medicare and private health insurance companies paying the majority of the associated fees.
Medication is an important part of cancer treatment and many cancer drugs are subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, with individuals making co-payments.
Numerous health promotion programs have been implemented by government and non-government organisations, including Quit, SunSmart and BreastScreen Australia. These initiatives represent direct costs to the community.