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  • February 2009

    Cost Impact of Early Colorectal Cancer Detection

    Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology | Kathleen Lang et al.


    Lifetime and Treatment-Phase Costs Associated With Colorectal Cancer: Evidence from SEER-Medicare Data


    Kathleen Lang; Lisa M. Lines; David W. Lee; Jonathan R. Korn; Craig C. Earle; Joseph Menzin


    Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Vol. 7, 2009


    A recent study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology provided an in-depth analysis of long-term and phase-specific treatment costs related to colorectal cancer (CRC). In a retrospective cohort study, researchers from Harvard Medical School evaluated the data of 56,838 CRC patients – 41,256 colon cancer patients and 15,582 rectal cancer patients – as well as a random 5% sample of non-cancer Medicare beneficiaries for comparison.

    Across the board – from initial treatment costs and continuing care costs, to terminal care costs – CRC-related health costs were significantly greater in later stage patients. For example, the average initial treatment cost for an individual diagnosed with CRC at Stage 0 was $16,927, compared to $41,562 at Stage IV. Similarly, the annual CRC-related continuing care costs were $2,175 for Stage 0 patients, compared to $20,582 for Stage IV. Terminal costs (defined as the average costs incurred during a patient’s final year) were $7,121 for Stage 0, less than one-third of the cost for Stage IV patients, whose average terminal cost was $25,714.

    According to Lang et al, “This study showed that excess costs are striking and vary considerably by treatment phase, cancer subsite, and stage at diagnosis. Within each treatment phase and on a per-survival-year basis, costs increase substantially for later stage diagnoses. Interventions aimed at prevention and earlier detection of CRC have the potential to yield sizable economic benefits.”

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