National Utilization, Survival, and Costs Analysis of Treatment Options for Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A SEER-Medicare Database Analysis

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RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: To compare utilization, outcomes, and costs of surgery, radiation therapy, and percutaneous ablation for the treatment of stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using 2006-2016 Medicare-linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) databases, stage I NSCLC patients who underwent surgery, radiotherapy, or percutaneous ablation were identified using relevant billing codes. National utilization rates were determined. Overall survival for treatment arms were compared using log-rank test and Cox-proportional hazard modeling. Mean direct costs for each treatment strategy during the first year after diagnosis were compared using Analysis of Variance.

RESULTS: A total of 15,847 Stage I NSCLC patients were identified; mean age at diagnosis was 75.5 years (minimum age = 66 years) and 59.2% were female. A total of 10,732 patients (67.7%) underwent only surgery, 5013 (31.6%) only radiotherapy, and 102 (0.6%) only ablation. Utilization of surgery and ablation decreased while radiotherapy utilization increased from 2007 to 2015 (p < 0.0001). Compared to the ablation group, overall survival was greater for the surgery group (HR: 0.7, 95% CI of HR: 0.6-0.9, p = 0.0047) and lower for the radiotherapy group (HR: 1.4, 95% CI of HR: 1.1-1.8, p = 0.002). The mean first year cost of therapy for ablation = $11,976) was significantly less (p < 0.05) than for radiotherapy ($15,447) and surgery ($22,669).

CONCLUSION: In Medicare patients with stage I NSCLC, the utilization of radiation therapy has increased and surgery has declined, while utilization of percutaneous ablation has remained uniformly low. Although overall survival is best for surgery, then ablation, and then radiation therapy, first year treatment costs are lowest for ablation.

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Academic Radiology

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This article was published in Academic Radiology.

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