Low-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) is associated with extremely low rates of progression and cancer-specific mortality; however, patients with low-risk NMIBC may often receive non-guideline-recommended and potentially costly surveillance testing and treatment.
To describe current surveillance and treatment practices, cancer outcomes, and costs of care for low-grade papillary stage Ta (low-grade Ta) NMIBC and identify factors associated with increased cost of care.
This population-based cohort study identified 13 054 older adults (aged 66-90 years) diagnosed with low-grade Ta tumors in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-linked Medicare database from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2013. Medicare claims data through December 31, 2014, were also reviewed. Data were analyzed from April 1 to October 6, 2021.
Surveillance testing and treatment among patients with low-grade Ta NMIBC.
The primary outcome was patterns in population-level surveillance and treatment practice over time among patients with low-grade Ta NMIBC. Secondary outcomes were recurrence (defined as receipt of subsequent transurethral resection of bladder tumor >3 months after index diagnosis of NMIBC and initial transurethral resection of bladder tumor), progression (defined as receipt of definitive treatment for bladder cancer), and costs of care.
Among 13 054 patients who met inclusion criteria, 9596 (73.5%) were male and 3458 (26.5%) were female, with a median age of 76 years (IQR, 71-81 years). A total of 403 patients (3.1%) were Black, 120 (0.9%) were Hispanic, 12 123 (92.9%) were White, and 408 (3.1%) were of other races and/or ethnicities. Rates of surveillance cystoscopy increased over the study period (from 79.3% in 2004 to 81.5% in 2013; P = .007), with patients receiving a median of 3.0 cystoscopies per year (IQR, 2.0-4.0 per year). Rates of upper tract imaging (particularly computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging) also increased over the study period (from 30.4% in 2004 to 47.0% in 2013; P < .001), with most patients receiving a median of 2.0 imaging tests per year (IQR, 1.0-2.0 per year). The use of urine cytologic testing or other urine biomarker assessment also increased (from 44.8% in 2004 to 54.9% in 2013; P < .001). Rates of adherence to current guidelines were similar over time (eg, a median of 4398 patients [55.2%] received ≤2 cystoscopies per year in 2004-2008 vs a median of 2736 patients [53.8%] in 2009-2013; P = .11), suggesting overuse of all surveillance testing modalities. With regard to treatment, 2250 patients (17.2%) received intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin, and 792 patients (6.1%) received intravesical chemotherapy (excluding receipt of a single perioperative dose). Among all patients with low-grade Ta NMIBC, 217 (1.7%) experienced disease recurrence and 52 (0.4%) experienced disease progression. The total annual median costs of low-grade Ta surveillance testing and treatment increased by 60% (from $34 792 in 2004 to $53 986 in 2013), with higher 1-year median expenditures noted among those with disease recurrence ($76 669) vs no disease recurrence ($53 909) at the end of the study period.
In this cohort study, despite low rates of disease recurrence and progression, rates of surveillance testing increased during the study period. The annual cost of care also increased over time, particularly among patients with recurrent disease. Efforts to improve adherence to current practice guidelines, with the focus on limiting overuse of surveillance testing and treatment, may mitigate associated increasing costs of care.
JAMA network open. 2022 Mar 01*** epublish ***
Kelly K Bree, Yong Shan, Patrick J Hensley, Niyati Lobo, Chengrui Hu, Douglas S Tyler, Karim Chamie, Ashish M Kamat, Stephen B Williams
Department of Urology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston., Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston., Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston., Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles.