Survival Rates and Health Care Costs for Patients With Advanced Bladder Cancer Treated and Untreated With Chemotherapy

Systemic chemotherapy has long been the standard of care for advanced bladder cancer, but its cost implications are poorly understood. The objective of this analysis was to estimate survival and health care costs for patients with stage IV bladder cancer who did or did not receive chemotherapy.

This was a retrospective cohort study of patients identified in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database with a new primary diagnosis of stage IV bladder cancer between January 2007 and December 2011. Survival and health care visits and costs following the date of diagnosis were determined for treated and untreated patients. Costs were expressed in 2016 US dollars.

A total of 1215 patients were diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer, of whom 411 (33.8%) were treated with chemotherapy and 804 (66.2%) were untreated. Median overall survival was 10 months longer for treated than for untreated patients: 13.2 (95% confidence interval, 12.3-14.1) months versus 3.2 (95% confidence interval, 3.0-3.5) months. Treated patients had fewer per-patient-per-month (PPPM) health care visits than untreated patients (7.5 vs. 10.2, P < .01) and lower total PPPM health care costs ($10,707 vs. $18,935). Overall mean total lifetime costs were greater for treated than for untreated patients ($139,893 vs. $66,829, P < .05), which was driven by an approximate 4-fold increase in life expectancy for the treated patients.

Approximately two thirds of patients diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer were not treated with systemic chemotherapy. Increasing the percentage of treated patients in this population could potentially extend overall survival while simultaneously lowering PPPM costs.

Clinical genitourinary cancer. 2018 Mar 27 [Epub ahead of print]

Kyle Flannery, Xiting Cao, Jinghua He, Yichen Zhong, Amishi Y Shah, Ashish M Kamat

Merck & Co Inc, Kenilworth, NJ. Electronic address: ., Merck & Co Inc, Kenilworth, NJ., Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology., Division of Surgery, Department of Urology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.