Pancreatic cancer - cost for overtreatment with gemcitabine.

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Gemcitabine has been the standard chemotherapeutic agent in pancreatic cancer. However, two-thirds of pancreatic tumors display low expression of human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (hENT1), which mediates cellular entry of the drug, and do not respond to gemcitabine therapy. The objective was to determine the costs of gemcitabine overtreatment and the cost-effectiveness of hENT1 testing using a Swedish pancreatic cancer cohort. Material and methods. The study population included 87 patients that were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during 2008-2010 at Skåne University Hospital, Lund. A detailed review of treatments, side effects and resource utilization was performed. The proportion of hENT1-low was estimated at two-thirds based on previous evaluations of tumor samples from the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) trial 9704, the German AIO Pancreatic Cancer Group (AIO-PK) trial 0104, the Low hENT1 and Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas (LEAP) trial and the authors' own institution. The cost of the hENT1 test was estimated at €50-200. Results. Sixty patients received gemcitabine and the other 27 best supportive care. Drug administration and hospitalization were the main expenditures. Grade 3 and 4 toxicities occurred in 42%, the most common being neutropenia (18%). The hospital costs related to gemcitabine overtreatment amounted to €5358 per pancreatic cancer patient, corresponding to as much as one-third of the total treatment cost. The health economical costs amounted to €9449 per patient when including indirect costs. Using hENT1 testing to select patients for gemcitabine therapy would save €8.6 million in Sweden each year. Conclusion. Total costs related to gemcitabine overtreatment were high. Individualizing gemcitabine treatment is cost-saving and would reduce unnecessary treatment-related toxicity.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1151
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch