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A retrospective analysis of delays in the diagnosis of lung cancer and associated costs

Authors Gildea TR, DaCosta Byfield S, Hogarth DK, Wilson DS, Quinn CC

Received 12 January 2017

Accepted for publication 7 April 2017

Published 12 May 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 261—269

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CEOR.S132259

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Giorgio Lorenzo Colombo

Thomas R Gildea,1 Stacey DaCosta Byfield,2 D Kyle Hogarth,3 David S Wilson,4 Curtis C Quinn5

1Department of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine and Transplant Center, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, 2Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Optum, Eden Prairie, MN, 3Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL, 4The Lung Institute, Columbus Regional Hospital, Columbus, IN, 5Cardiothoracic Surgery/Thoracic Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery of Charleston, Roper St. Francis Physician Partners Group, Charleston, SC, USA

Purpose: Diagnosis of lung cancer at advanced stages can result in missed treatment opportunities, worse outcomes, and higher health care costs. This study evaluated the wait time to diagnose non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the cost of diagnosis and treatment based on the stage at diagnosis.
Patients and methods: Adult patients diagnosed with NSCLC between January 2007 and September 2011 were identified from a proprietary oncology registry and linked to health insurance claims from a large US health insurance company. Continuous enrollment in the health plan was required for at least 12 months prediagnosis (baseline) and at least 3 months postdiagnosis (follow-up). Use of diagnostic tests and time to diagnosis were examined. The rates of health care utilization and per-patient per-month (PPPM) health care costs were calculated.
Results: A total of 1,210 patients with NSCLC were included in the analysis. Most patients (93.6%) had evidence of diagnostic tests beginning 5 to 6 months prior to diagnosis, and most were diagnosed at an advanced stage (23% Stage IIIb and 46% Stage IV). The PPPM total health care costs in USD pre- and postdiagnosis were $2,407±$3,364 (mean±standard deviation) and $16,577±$33,550, respectively. PPPM total health care costs and utilization after lung cancer diagnosis were significantly higher among patients diagnosed at Stage IV disease and lowest among patients diagnosed at Stage I disease ($7,239 Stage I, $9,484 Stage II, $11,193 Stage IIIa, $17,415 Stage IIIb, and $21,441 Stage IV).
Conclusion: This study showed that most patients experienced long periods of delay between their first diagnostic test for lung cancer and a definitive diagnosis, and the majority were diagnosed at advanced stages of disease. Costs associated with the management of lung cancer increased substantially with higher stages at diagnosis. Procedures that diagnose lung cancer at earlier stages may allow for less resource use and costs among patients with lung cancer.

Keywords: biopsy (lung), cost, health care utilization, pulmonary nodule, staging

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