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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013 Apr;24(4):476-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2012.12.016. Epub 2013 Feb 23.

Cost and effectiveness of radiofrequency ablation versus limited surgical resection for stage I non-small-cell lung cancer in elderly patients: is less more?

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Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, 593 Eddy St., Providence, RI 02903, USA.



To retrospectively evaluate cost and mortality in 84 patients older than 65 years of age with stage IA or IB non-small-cell lung cancer treated with radiofrequency (RF) ablation or limited surgical resection (ie, wedge resection or segmentectomy) from the perspective of the payer, Medicare.


From August 2000 to November 2009, 56 patients were treated with RF ablation and 28 with surgery who met the inclusion criteria. Patient health histories and billing charges from initial treatment to the study endpoint were collected. Charges were converted to 2009 Medicare reimbursement fees and cumulated by month. Time-event data were analyzed by using the Kaplan-Meier method. Survival functions and median survival estimates were reported with standard errors. Patient cohorts' survival functions were compared based on the Wilcoxon weighted χ(2) statistic.


Group demographics were comparable with the exception of age, with patients treated with RF ablation an average of 4 years older (95% confidence interval, 0.85-6.76). The overall mortality rate was lower in patients treated with surgery than in those treated with RF ablation (χ(2) = 8.0225, P = .0046), with a median cost per month lived for RF ablation recipients of $620.74, versus $1,195.92 for those treated with surgery (P = .0002, Wilcoxon rank-sum test).


Patients treated with surgery showed a significant increase in survival; however, those treated with RF ablation were significantly older. For patients who are not surgical candidates, RF ablation provides an alternative treatment option at a significantly lower cost.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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