Background: The mortality rates for different cancers are no longer an efficient tool for making national policy. The purpose of this study were to quantify the lifetime risks, life expectancies (LEs) after diagnosis, expected years of life lost (EYLL), and lifetime health care expenditures for 19 major cancers in Taiwan. Methods: A total of 831,314 patients with 19 pathologically proven cancers were abstracted from the Taiwan Cancer Registry from 1998 to 2012. They were linked to the National Mortality Registry (1998–2014) and National Health Insurance reimbursement database (1998–2013) for survival and health care costs. We estimated the cumulative incidence rate for ages 0–79 years and the lifetime survival function for patients with different cancer sites. The EYLL was calculated by subtracting the LE of each cancer cohort from that of the age-and sex-matched referents simulated from national life tables. The estimated lifetime cost was calculated by adding up the product of survival probability and mean cost at the corresponding duration-to-date after adjustment for the inflation to the year of 2013. Results: There were 5 cancers with a lifetime risk exceeding 4%: colorectal, liver, lung, and prostate in males, and breast and colorectal in females. Cancers with EYLL of >10 years were: esophageal, intrahepatic bile ducts, liver, pancreas, oral, nasopharyngeal, leukemia, lung, and gallbladder, extrahepatic bile ducts and biliary tract in males, and intrahepatic bile ducts, pancreas, nasopharyngeal, lung, esophageal, leukemia, liver, gallbladder, extrahepatic bile ducts and biliary tract, ovary, and stomach in females. Cancers with lifetime health care expenditures exceeding US 50,000 to the National Health Insurance were as follows: leukemia, kidney, testis, renal pelvis and ureter in males, and renal pelvis and ureter, leukemia, breast, urinary bladder, kidney, ovary, and nasopharyngeal in females. All these impacts should be considered in health policy decisions. Conclusion: The impacts of cancer in Taiwan are very large. Future studies must consider both quality of life and the entire impact from societal perspectives.
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