white paper

Evaluating the Supportive Care Costs of Severe Radiochemotherapy-Induced Mucositis and Pharyngitis

Few studies have examined the costs of supportive care for radiochemotherapy-induced mucosits/pharyngitis among patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) or lung cancers despite the documented negative clinical impact of these complications.

The authors identified a retrospective cohort of patients with HNC or nonsmall lung cancer (NSCLC) who had received radiochemotherapy at 1 of 3 Chicago hospitals (a Veterans Administration hospital, a county hospital, or a tertiary care hospital). Charts were reviewed for the presence/absence of severe mucositis/pharyngitis and the medical resources that were used. Resource estimates were converted into cost units obtained from standard sources (hospital bills, Medicare physician fee schedule, Red Book). Estimates of resources used and direct medical costs were compared for patients who did and patients who did not develop severe mucositis/pharyngitis.

Severe mucositis/pharyngitis occurred in 70.1% of 99 patients with HNC and in 37.5% of 40 patients with NSCLC during radiochemotherapy. The total median medical costs per patient were $39,313 for patients with mucositis/ pharyngitis and $20,798 for patients without mucositis/pharyngitis (P 5 .007). Extended inpatient hospitalization accounted for $12,600 of the increased medical costs (median 14 days [$19,600] with severe mucositis/pharyngitis vs 5 days [$7000] without; P 5 .017). For patients who had HNC with mucositis/pharyngitis, incremental inpatient hospitalization costs were $14,000, and total medical costs were $17,244. For patients who had NSCLC with mucositis/pharyngitis, these costs were $11,200 and $25,000, respectively.

In the current study, the medical costs among the patients with HNC and NSCLC who received radiochemotherapy were greater for those who developed severe mucositis/pharyngitis than for those who did not.