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    Prostate Ca radiation therapy cost drivers analyzed

    The cost of radiation therapy for prostate cancer in the United States varies substantially, and most of the variation is accounted for by factors that are not related to the patient or tumor, according to the results of a study published online in Journal of Oncology Practice (Aug. 11, 2015). 

    The investigation, undertaken by researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Peking University in Beijing, identified patients within the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database who were diagnosed with prostate, breast, or lung cancer between 2004 and 2009. Based on Medicare reimbursements, they analyzed costs of radiation therapy, and then used multivariable linear regression models to explore the effects of patient, tumor, and radiation therapy provider characteristics on cost variation.

    Also see: Biomarkers offer insight into PCa racial disparity

    For the prostate cancer cohort, the median cost of radiation therapy was $18,000, and the interquartile range was $11,300 to $25,500. Less than 3% of the variation in radiation therapy cost for prostate cancer was accounted for by patient- or tumor-related factors, while 61% of the variation was related to practice type, geography, and individual radiation therapy provider.

    The study was conducted recognizing that radiation therapy is a major source of health care spending for patients with cancer—the total cost of radiation therapy for the 55,288 patients included in the study exceeded $831 million—and recognizing that understanding the sources of variability in the cost of radiation therapy is critical to evaluating the efficiency of the Medicare reimbursement system.

    As noted by first author Anthony Paravati, MD, “Such insights are likely to shape policy reforms in the near-future.”

    NEXT: Need for future research exploring potential association between cost of RT, quality of care

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    Cheryl Guttman Krader
    Cheryl Guttman Krader is a contributor to Dermatology Times, Ophthalmology Times, and Urology Times.

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