BACKGROUND: Melanoma is a life-threatening disease of the skin with an increasing incidence of approximately 87 000 new cases treated per year in the European Union and the European Free Trade Association states resulting in considerable costs for the society. Since the use of sunbeds is known to be a risk factor, which can be easily avoided, costs of malignant melanoma attributable to sunbed use are modelled in the present study.
METHODS: Costs-of-illness of melanoma were calculated and compared for all member states of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association states using an established modelling approach. Calculations were based on a systematic literature research. For countries with no available information on cost-of-illness the gross domestic product, health expenditures and gross national income served as a basis for extrapolation of costs. International comparison was enabled by adjusting costs by the national purchasing power parity.
RESULTS: After adjusting melanoma treatment costs for the purchasing power parity, direct costs per patient vary between € 1056 in Romania and € 10 215 in Luxembourg. Costs due to morbidity range from € 102 per patient in Sweden and € 5178 in the UK resulting in total costs of € 1751-€ 12 611 per patient. Average weighted total costs per patient amount for € 6861-€ 6967 annually. In total, in 2012 approximately 4450 new cases of melanoma have been induced by sunbed use in the 31 included countries, which corresponds to 5.1% of all incident melanoma cases. National attributable melanoma costs range from € 1570 in Malta to € 11.1 million in Germany and sum up to an amount of € 32.5-€ 33.4 million for all countries.
CONCLUSION: This article provides a first estimation on costs of melanoma in Europe. It illustrates the contribution of exposure to artificial ultraviolet light in the economic burden of malignant melanoma.