Author(s): Karlsson G, Nygren P, Glimelius B SBUgroup
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Abstract A systematic review of the effect of chemotherapy in several tumour types was performed by The Swedish Council of Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU). The review also included an assessment of the limited number of studies available on the health economics of chemotherapy for diagnoses included in the SBU report. The conclusions reached from this assessment can be summarized as follows: Several international studies and one Swedish study addressed the cost-effectiveness of different chemotherapeutic regimens. The quality of the studies is generally low and comparability is rather limited. Some of the studies compared cytostatic treatment with no cytostatic treatment. Most studies, however, compared two or more treatments. The costs were then compared with potential differences in treatment outcome. Outcomes are mostly measured as the cost per life-year gained. The results from these studies vary by treatment and indication. In some cases, after all relevant costs are taken into account, chemotherapy shows cost savings. In most studies, chemotherapy is associated both with higher costs and improved treatment results, often measured in terms of survival. Studies of rather high quality show that the cost per life-year gained (quality-adjusted) for most chemotherapeutic regimens with relatively limited effects ranges between 100,000 and 250,000 Swedish kronor (SEK). Estimates of cost-effectiveness for more effective chemotherapy has not been reported in the literature. The estimated costs are in parity with the costs of 'established' treatments for other diseases. There is uncertainty about what treatments can be considered cost-effective; there is no consensus concerning what costs are 'reasonable' per life-year gained in health care. The estimates of cost-effectiveness in most studies are highly uncertain and must be interpreted with caution. Improved assessment would require more studies in Sweden. For various reasons it is difficult to apply the results from the international studies to Sweden.
This article was published in Acta Oncol
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