Publication Abstract

Authors: Razfar A, Mundi J, Grogan T, Lee S, Elashoff D, Abemayor E, St John M

Title: IMRT for head and neck cancer: Cost implications.

Journal: Am J Otolaryngol 37(6):479-483

Date: 2016 Nov-Dec

Abstract: OBJECTIVES: Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is a dose-delivery technology allowing for a reduction in radiotherapy side effects. It has been rapidly adopted despite the lack of prospective studies showing improved outcomes. We sought to compare the cost through Medicare reimbursement patterns of surgery, IMRT, and conventional XRT in treating head and neck cancer. We then identified factors that correlate with these differences. METHODS: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked data were examined to determine treatment patterns for 47,237 patients with head and neck carcinoma from 2000 to 2007. We identified 14,748 patients that met our inclusion criteria. We then compared cost related to head and neck cancer treatments on the basis of Medicare payments. RESULTS: From 2000 to 2007, the usage of IMRT increased from 1.5% to 48.6% while the usage of conventional XRT decreased from 98.5% to 51.4% (p<0.0001). During this time, patients undergoing IMRT had a mean cost of $101,099 compared to $42,843 for XRT. For patients with early stage tumors, surgery alone cost $18,140, traditional XRT $32,296 while IMRT cost $95,047 (p<0.0001). When removing patients who underwent concomitant chemotherapy, patients treated with IMRT cost $67,576 compared to $24,955 for non-IMRT patients (p<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: IMRT has become widely adopted as a primary treatment modality in head and neck cancer. We demonstrated that IMRT is significantly more costly than traditional treatment for head and neck cancers. Prospective studies investigating the comparative efficacy of IMRT will be needed in order to determine if this increased cost correlates with patient outcomes. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 2b.