Burden of skin cancer in Belgium and cost-effectiveness of primary prevention by reducing ultraviolet exposure

Prev Med. 2016 Dec;93:177-182. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 3.


Skin cancer (melanoma- and non-melanoma skin cancer) is one of the most rapidly increasing cancers worldwide. This study analysed the current and future economic burden of skin cancer in Belgium and the cost-effectiveness of primary prevention of skin cancer. A retrospective bottom-up cost-of-illness study was performed, together with a Markov model in order to analyse the cost-effectiveness and the budget impact analysis of primary prevention of skin cancer in Belgium. Total prevalence of skin cancer in Belgium was estimated to triple in the next 20years. The total economic burden of skin cancer in 2014 in Belgium was estimated at €106 million, with a cumulative cost of €3 billion in 2034. The majority of this total cost was due to melanoma (65%). Over a period of 50years, both a sensitisation campaign and a total ban on sunbed use would lead to a gain in quality-adjusted life-years and cost-savings. For every euro invested in the campaign, €3.6 would be saved on the long-term for the healthcare payer. Policy makers and clinicians should promote UV protection strategies, as they were estimated to be dominant strategies.

Keywords: Cost-effectiveness; Cost-of-illness; Markov model; Primary prevention; Skin cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Cost Savings
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / economics*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / economics
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / prevention & control
  • Primary Prevention / economics*
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / economics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*