Cost-effectiveness of treating head and neck cancer using intensity-modulated radiation therapy: implications for cancer control program in India

Head and Neck Cancer

Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2020 Sep 23:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S0266462320000677. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The newer cancer treatment technologies hold the potential of providing improved health outcomes at an additional cost. So it becomes obligatory to assess the costs and benefits of a new technology, before defining its clinical value. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) as compared to 2-dimensional radiotherapy (2-DRT) and 3-dimensional radiotherapy (3D-CRT) for treating head and neck cancers (HNC) in India. The cost-effectiveness of 3-DCRT as compared to 2-DRT was also estimated.

METHODS: A probabilistic Markov model was designed. Using a disaggregated societal perspective, lifetime study horizon and 3 percent discount rate, future costs and health outcomes were compared for a cohort of 1000 patients treated with any of the three radiation techniques. Data on health system cost, out of pocket expenditure, and quality of life was assessed through primary data collected from a large tertiary care public sector hospital in India. Data on xerostomia rates following each of the radiation techniques was extracted from the existing randomized controlled trials.

RESULTS: IMRT incurs an incremental cost of $7,072 (2,932-13,258) and $5,164 (463-10,954) per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained compared to 2-DRT and 3D-CRT, respectively. Further, 3D-CRT as compared to 2-DRT requires an incremental cost of $8,946 (1,996-19,313) per QALY gained.

CONCLUSION: Both IMRT and 3D-CRT are not cost-effective at 1 times GDP per capita for treating HNC in India. The costs and benefits of using IMRT for other potential indications (e.g. prostate, lung) require to be assessed before considering its introduction in India.