Trends and variations in utilization and costs of radiotherapy for prostate cancer: A SEER medicare analysis from 2007 through 2016

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OBJECTIVE: To assess recent changes and disparities in utilization and costs of radiotherapy in Medicare beneficiaries with prostate cancer.

METHODS: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) -Medicare linked data from 2006-2016 were used to identify continuously enrolled Medicare beneficiaries with a first-time diagnosis of prostate cancer who, within 12 months of diagnosis, underwent at least one radiotherapy related service. Trends in the utilization of different radiotherapy techniques over time, yearly changes in per-patient costs of radiotherapy, and effect of socio-demographic and clinical characteristics on total cost were measured. Per patient annual costs, annual incidence of prostate cancer, and utilization of radiotherapy were used to estimate total costs of radiotherapy to the Medicare program.

RESULTS: For Medicare beneficiaries with a first-time diagnosis of prostate cancer, the utilization of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), proton therapy, and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) increased 23.62%, 0.74% and 1.61% respectively (p

DISCUSSION: In Medicare beneficiaries with prostate cancer treated with radiotherapy, IMRT is the primary mode of treatment. Utilization of brachytherapy decreased significantly despite the efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Although per patient costs have decreased, the share of patient responsibility remained unaltered across years. The current costs to Medicare of radiotherapy for newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients is substantial.

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This article was published in Brachytherapy.

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