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

erapies for colorectal cancer over the past several years, which can in some cases almost double survival time, has led to a 340-fold increase in the cost of chemotherapy, Lyman said. The burden of this increase is felt by insurers, by patients and their families and ultimately, by taxpayers, he said.

"For many of these colorectal cancer patients, depending on how advanced their disease is, we may be talking about buying a few months," he said. "And these rapidly increasing costs have raised ethical questions about whether such sums of money should be dedicated to treatments that may modestly prolong life but not offer increased cure rate."

Lyman said that these findings may suggest that new strategies should be sought to limit the economic impact of these newer treatment regimens, including appealing to drug companies to reassess their pricing policies and relaxing prohibitions on the federal government negotiating drug prices.

There is also concern, Lyman said, that some patients, especially in smaller, rural areas, may have limited access to care or be receiving older, "out-of-date" therapies because of either the patient's or the practice's inability to pay for the newer agents.

"At the same time, it may be prudent for researchers and clinicians to search for improved prognostic and predictive markers that may permit more selective or targeted application of expensive therapies in patients who stand to derive the most clinical benefit from them," he said. "Such strategies may provide not only the most effective but also the most cost-effective use of these new agents for patients with 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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