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Value Health. 2002 Jan-Feb;5(1):35-43.

The incidence and cost of hospitalization for 5-FU toxicity among Medicare beneficiaries with metastatic colorectal cancer.

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Policy Analysis Inc. (PAI), 4 Davis Court, Brookline, MA 02245, USA.



To estimate the incidence and associated cost of hospitalizations for toxicities associated with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.


Using the 1994 Medicare 5% sample, we identified all patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who had undergone colorectal surgery. We then stratified them into those who received 5-FU therapy within 90 days of their surgery (5-FU group) and those who did not receive chemotherapy (no-chemotherapy group); patients who received chemotherapeutic agents other than 5-FU were excluded from the sample. Using techniques of survival analysis, we then compared the incidence and associated cost of all hospital admissions with listed International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) diagnostic codes (primary or secondary) for conditions possibly related to 5-FU toxicity (e.g., volume depletion, stomatitis, nausea, and vomiting).


A total of 441 patients met all study entry criteria, including 192 who received 5-FU and 249 who did not receive chemotherapy following surgery. Patients in the 5-FU group were younger than those in the no-chemotherapy group (p < .001). Mean (+/- SD) follow-up time was slightly longer in the 5-FU group (137 +/- 96 days vs. 117 +/- 88 days for no chemotherapy). The incidence of toxicity-related hospitalizations at 10.5 months (principally volume depletion, agranulocytosis, gastroenteritis, and nausea and vomiting) was 31% among patients who received 5-FU and 8% among those who did not receive chemotherapy. The cost of inpatient care at 10.5 months was $2716 higher among 5-FU patients.


Hospitalization for toxicity of Medicare patients with metastatic colorectal cancer receiving 5-FU is frequent and costly.

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