When is cancer care cost-effective? a systematic overview of cost-utility analyses in oncology

Dan Greenberg, Craig Earle, Chi Hui Fang, Adi Eldar-Lissai, Peter J. Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


New cancer treatments pose a substantial financial burden on health-care systems, insurers, patients, and society. Cost-utility analyses (CUAs) of cancer-related interventions have received increased attention in the medical literature and are being used to inform reimbursement decisions in many health-care systems. We identified and reviewed 242 cancer-related CUAs published through 2007 and included in the Tufts Medical Center Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry (www.cearegistry.org). Leading cancer types studied were breast (36% of studies), colorectal (12%), and hematologic cancers (10%). Studies have examined interventions for tertiary prevention (73% of studies), secondary prevention (19%), and primary prevention (8%). We present league tables by disease categories that consist of a description of the intervention, its comparator, the target population, and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. The median reported incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (in 2008 US $) were $27000 for breast cancer, $22000 for colorectal cancer, $34500 for prostate cancer, $32000 for lung cancer, and $48000 for hematologic cancers. The results highlight the many opportunities for efficient investment in cancer care across different cancer types and interventions and the many investments that are inefficient. Because we found only modest improvement in the quality of studies, we suggest that journals provide specific guidance for reporting CUA and assure that authors adhere to guidelines for conducting and reporting economic evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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