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Cost of treating colorectal cancer can vary by thousands per patient
Date:11/7/2008

DURHAM, N.C. -- The cost of treating colorectal cancer varies widely, with newer, life-extending therapies sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars more than older agents, according to a study led by a team of researchers in the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"The total cost of chemotherapy to treat colorectal cancer may differ by as much as $36,999 per patient, depending on the regimen," said Gary Lyman, M.D., an oncologist and health outcomes researcher at Duke, and senior investigator on this study. "We know that some therapies are more promising and effective, in general, than others, and cost variation raises many questions about what kind of care patients are receiving and whether this economic burden is matched by significant clinical advancements, especially with regard to quality of life."

The findings appeared in the November 2008 issue of the American Journal of Managed Care. The study was funded by the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center's Health Services and Outcomes Program.

The researchers identified the eight most commonly prescribed treatment regimens within a cohort of more than 400 patients who were treated at 115 ambulatory care centers across the United States. Regimens included supportive agents often needed to combat treatment-related side effects such as nausea, and varied from an older chemotherapy cocktail known as 5-FU/ LV (5-fluoroucil and leucovorin calcium), to newer therapies that include the use of bevacizumab, commonly known as Avastin. Bevacizumab was FDA-approved in 2004 for the treatment of colorectal cancer, and works by choking off a tumor's blood supply.

"The cost of treating colorectal cancer has skyrocketed," Lyman said. "We have seen similar trends in terms of rapidly rising costs of drug development in breast cancer and other malignancies, but nowhere has this been more striking than in the management of colorectal cancer."

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Contact: Lauren Shaftel Williams
lauren.shaftel@duke.edu
919-684-4966
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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