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Early cancer surveillance results in cost effectiveness for third-party payers, study shows

LFS patients who received early cancer surveillance extended their lifetime, but incurred higher healthcare costs.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Early cancer screening and surveillance in patients with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, or LFS, results in additional years of life and is cost effective for third-party payers, finds new research published in Pediatric Blood and Cancer.

LFS is an inherited genetic condition that greatly increases the risk of developing several types of cancer. People diagnosed with LFS have a one in two chance of developing cancer by 30, and a nearly 100 percent risk of developing cancer in their lifetime, compared to the lifetime cancer risk of the average person of almost 40 percent.


The study looked at data throughout the lifetimes of patients who were diagnosed with LFS. The researchers examined the cumulative costs and life expectancy for these high-risk patients, comparing those who received cancer surveillance with those who did not.

By using a decision-analytical model, the researchers showed that LFS patients who received early cancer surveillance extended their lifetime, but incurred higher healthcare costs. With each additional year of life these patients gained, payers had an incremental medical cost of about $17,000.

This expenditure compares favorably to commonly accepted thresholds of willingness to pay per life-year gained of $100,000.

A big clinical challenge with early cancer screenings for LFS patients is receiving insurance approval, and the authors hope the research will show that early cancer screening both saves lives and is cost effective for LFS patients.

The research team plans to continue to investigate and validate the cost-effectiveness of early tumor surveillance for patients with LFS, including determining actual number of dollars spent with various healthcare systems.


Cancer screening for people 70 and older does incur some costs, especially prostate cancer screening in men. In September, researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center estimated that screening and treatment for men in this age group costs Medicare more than $1.2 billion over a three year period for each group of men diagnosed annually.

Findings also showed that of the total, $451 million was spent on men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer that is graded with a Gleason score of 6, which is considered to be a low-grade disease and best managed using active surveillance rather than aggressive treatment.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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