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Health system costs and days in hospital for colorectal cancer patients in New South Wales, Australia

David E Goldsbury, Eleonora Feletto, Marianne F Weber, Philip Haywood, Alison Pearce (), Jie-Bin Lew, Joachim Worthington, Emily He, Julia Steinberg, Dianne L O’Connell and Karen Canfell

PLOS ONE, 2021, vol. 16, issue 11, 1-19

Abstract: Introduction: Colorectal cancer (CRC) care costs the Australian healthcare system more than any other cancer. We estimated costs and days in hospital for CRC cases, stratified by site (colon/rectal cancer) and disease stage, to inform detailed analyses of CRC-related healthcare. Methods: Incident CRC patients were identified using the Australian 45 and Up Study cohort linked with cancer registry records. We analysed linked hospital admission records, emergency department records, and reimbursement records for government-subsidised medical services and prescription medicines. Cases’ health system costs (2020 Australian dollars) and hospital days were compared with those for cancer-free controls (matched by age, sex, geography, smoking) to estimate excess resources by phase of care, analysed by sociodemographic, health, and disease characteristics. Results: 1200 colon and 546 rectal cancer cases were diagnosed 2006–2013, and followed up to June 2016. Eighty-nine percent of cases had surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and excess costs were predominantly for hospitalisations. Initial phase (12 months post-diagnosis) mean excess health system costs were $50,434 for colon and $60,877 for rectal cancer cases, with means of 16 and 18.5 excess hospital days, respectively. The annual continuing mean excess costs were $6,779 (colon) and $8,336 (rectal), with a mean of 2 excess hospital days each. Resources utilised (costs and days) in these phases increased with more advanced disease, comorbidities, and younger age. Mean excess costs in the year before death were $74,952 (colon) and $67,733 (rectal), with means of 34 and 30 excess hospital days, respectively–resources utilised were similar across all characteristics, apart from lower costs for cases aged ≥75 at diagnosis. Conclusions: Health system costs and hospital utilisation for CRC care are greater for people with more advanced disease. These findings provide a benchmark, and will help inform future cost-effectiveness analyses of potential approaches to CRC screening and treatment.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260088

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