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J Clin Oncol. 1988 Oct;6(10):1537-47.

Cost-effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy: an economic evaluation of a randomized trial in small-cell lung cancer.

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Department of Medicine, Women's College Hospital, Toronto, Canada.


An economic evaluation of a randomized trial of cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin; Adria Laboratories, Columbus, OH), and vincristine alone or alternating with etoposide (VP-16) and cisplatin in extensive small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) was undertaken. A survival benefit of 1.6 months in favor of alternating chemotherapy was associated with an additional cost of $450 (1984 Canadian dollars) per patient. This translated to a cost of $3,370 per year of life gained. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated that the cost-effectiveness (CEA) of alternating chemotherapy was greatest when treatment was given on an outpatient basis. The results of the evaluation were sensitive to hospitalization rates, but even the most unfavorable analyses revealed the CEA of alternating chemotherapy to be comparable to that of treatments of common nonmalignant diseases. It is concluded that the CEA of alternating chemotherapy for SCLC was favorable when compared with accepted treatments for nonmalignant diseases. The survival benefit seen with alternating chemotherapy was felt to be clinically significant and alternating chemotherapy is recommended as routine therapy for extensive SCLC.

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