What is the cost of providing colon cancer treatment in Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa?

Kelechi Nnene, one of the AWACAN-ED Scholars at the University of Cape Town, discusses the challenges faced in determining the cost of colon cancer treatment and describes the research she will undertake for her Masters.


Despite the availability of reliable screening methods and effective treatment options, colon cancer remains a significant contributor to morbidity, mortality, and economic costs worldwide. In 2020, colon cancer exhibited a global Age-Standardised Incidence Rate (ASIR) of 11.4 per 100,000 and Age-Standardized Mortality Rate (ASMR) of 5.4 per 100,000, ranking fifth in terms of incidence and seventh in terms of cancer-related mortality for both men and women of all ages [1]. In South Africa, colon cancer stands as the sixth most common cause of cancer-related death in both men and women [1, 2].  An increased mortality-to-incidence ratio worsens the situation in South Africa, which signifies poor colon cancer outcomes relative to incidence. Therefore, Public health measures to control colon cancer in South Africa are increasingly essential. However, the resources required to finance such measures cannot be determined without understanding the treatment cost burden for colon cancer. Costing studies can be used to estimate these resource requirements and the cost of providing healthcare interventions to inform planning and guide healthcare delivery [3, 4].

Challenges to understanding the treatment cost burden

Research outline

From the health providers’ perspective, this research uses an ingredient-based normative approach to estimate the per-patient direct medical cost of colon cancer treatment by disease stage at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH).

Specific objectives of the study

Outcomes & Impact


  1. Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, Colombet M, Mery L, Piñeros M, et al. Global Cancer Observatory. 2020.
  2. Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel RL, Laversanne M, Soerjomataram I, Jemal A, et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians. 2021;71(3):209-49.
  3. Drummond MF, Sculpher MJ, Claxton K, Stoddart GL, Torrance GW. Methods for the economic evaluation of health care programmes: Oxford university press; 2015.
  4. Vassall A, Sweeney S, Kahn J, Gomez Guillen G, Bollinger L, Marseille E, et al. Reference case for estimating the costs of global health services and interventions. 2017.

Kelechi is a clinical pharmacist with extensive experience in both hospital and retail pharmacy settings. She is currently nearing the completion of her postgraduate studies in Public Health. Her journey into health economics research has been fuelled by a passion for improving healthcare delivery through a comprehensive understanding of the financial aspects of illness. She is particularly drawn to cancer research, where she sees an opportunity to contribute to the body of knowledge and influence policy decisions with evidence-based research.


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