Author(s): van den Hout WB, van der Linden YM, Steenland E, Wiggenraad RG, Kievit J,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Radiotherapy is an effective palliative treatment for cancer patients with painful bone metastases. Although single- and multiple-fraction radiotherapy are thought to provide equal palliation, which treatment schedule provides better value for the money is unknown. We compared quality-adjusted life expectancy (the overall valuation of the health of the patients) and societal costs for patients receiving either single- or multiple-fraction radiotherapy. METHODS: A societal cost-utility analysis was performed on a Dutch randomized, controlled trial of 1157 patients with painful bone metastases that compared pain responses and quality of life from a single-fraction treatment schedule of 8 Gy with a treatment schedule of six fractions of 4 Gy each. The societal values of life expectancies were assessed with the EuroQol classification system (EQ-5D) questionnaire. A subset of 166 patients also answered additional questionnaires to estimate nonradiotherapy and nonmedical costs. Statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: Comparing the single- and multiple-fraction radiotherapy schedules, no differences were found in life expectancy (43.0 versus 40.4 weeks, P =.20) or quality-adjusted life expectancy (17.7 versus 16.0 weeks, P =.21). The estimated cost of radiotherapy, including retreatments and nonmedical costs, was statistically significantly lower for the single-fraction schedule than for the multiple-fraction schedule ($2438 versus $3311, difference = $873, 95\% confidence interval [CI] on the difference = $449 to $1297; P<.001). The estimated difference in total societal costs was larger, also in favor of the single-fraction schedule, but it was not statistically significant ($4700 versus $6453, difference = $1753, 95\% CI on the difference = -$99 to $3604; P =.06). For willingness-to-pay between $5000 and $40 000 per quality-adjusted life year, the single-fraction schedule was statistically significantly more cost-effective than the multiple-fraction schedule (P< or =.05). CONCLUSIONS: Compared with multiple-fraction radiotherapy, single-fraction radiotherapy provides equal palliation and quality of life and has lower medical and societal costs, at least in The Netherlands. Therefore, single-fraction radiotherapy should be considered as the palliative treatment of choice for cancer patients with painful bone metastases.
This article was published in J Natl Cancer Inst
and referenced in Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine