Cost savings associated with radiation treatment after lumpectomy for early-stage breast cancer

Using the National Cancer Database (NCDB), researchers set out to find the potential cost savings associated with an evidence-based radiation treatment (RT) approach among women in the United States with early-stage breast cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, identified women with clinically node-negative, T1-T2 invasive breast cancers treated with lumpectomy during 2011. These patients were defined as the study cohort due to the availability of both NCDB and Medicare cost data within a single calendar year.

Of the 43,247 patients, 64% received conventional RT, 13.3 percent received hypofractionated RT, 1.1 percent received accelerated partial-breast irradiation, and 21.6 percent received no RT.

“Among patients who were eligible for shorter RT or omission of RT, 57 percent underwent treatment with longer, more costly regimens,” wrote the authors. “Estimated RT expenditures of the national cohort approximated $420.2 million during 2011, compared with $256.2 million had women been treated with the least expensive regimens for which they were safely eligible. This demonstrated a potential annual savings of $164 million, a 39 percent reduction in associated treatment costs.”

Data suggests that use of an evidence based approach is associated with high-value care within oncology. Identifying high-value cancer treatment strategies is important in delivering and maintaining excellence in cancer care while reducing health care expenditures.