Oncology Publications


Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation Revisited: Cost-effectiveness and Quality of Life in Small-cell Lung Cancer

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International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics





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PURPOSE: To investigate the therapeutic usefulness and cost-effectiveness of prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) in patients with limited-stage small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) who had achieved a complete remission.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review was undertaken of all patients diagnosed in Saskatchewan with SCLC between 1987 and 1998 inclusive. Patients who achieved a complete remission were divided into two groups, depending on whether they underwent PCI (PCI+ and PCI-, respectively). The quality-of-life-adjusted survival was estimated by the Q-TWiST method (quality time without symptoms and toxicity). The mean incremental costs per month of incremental OS were calculated in a cost-effectiveness analysis.

RESULTS: Among the 98 complete remission patients, the median OS for PCI+ and PCI- patients was 20.0 and 19.0 months, respectively (p > 0.05, nonsignificant). The median disease-free survival was 14.7 and 10.0 months, respectively (p < 0.05). The difference in the mean Q-TWiST survival was significant (p < 0.01). The mean marginal cost was $18,834/PCI+ patient and $17,885/PCI- patient (p > 0.05, nonsignificant). The cost-effectiveness ratio was $70/mo of incremental OS if u(tox) and u(rel) (the utility coefficients to reflect the value of time in health states of toxicity and relapse) were assumed to be 1.0.

CONCLUSION: PCI is a cost-effective treatment that improves the quality-of-life-adjusted survival for patients with a complete remission of SCLC.