Colon Cancer Costs Continue Rising

The cost of colon cancer care rose significantly during the period from 2003 to 2013, despite decreases in overall hospitalizations and lengths of stay.

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These increases were seen across all hospital settings, suggesting that work aimed at decreasing length of stay has not translated into real-word cost savings.

Many researchers have attributed the rising costs of cancer care to new therapies administered in the outpatient setting. Little research has focused on the effects of inpatient treatment on the economic burden of colon cancer.

Dhruv Bansal, MD, instructor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO), and colleagues accessed data from hospitalized patients with a primary diagnosis of colon cancer between the years of 2003 and 2013. These data were used to analyze trends in hospitalization, length of stay, and mean cost per hospitalization. The researchers further analyzed cost per hospitalization based on hospital type, such as government-funded facilities, private for-profit hospitals, and private not-for-profit hospitals.

Rates of hospitalization for colon cancer decreased from 37.4 per 100000 admissions to 28.1 per 100 000 admissions during the study period. The mean length of stay also declined, from 9.06 days to 7.76 days.

Despite these data, the mean cost per hospitalization rose from $39 430 to $73 219. Between 2003 and 2013, the mean cost per hospitalization increased for government-run facilities ($33 507 vs. $63 194), private for-profit hospitals ($55 553 vs. $107 428), and private not-for-profit hospitals ($33 735 vs. $68 555).

“Further studies focusing on factors in addition to cost of biologic agents that contribute to cancer costs should be considered,” the researchers concluded.