Bladder and Upper Tract Urothelial Cancer

Published in: The Journal of Urology, v. 177, no. 5, May 2007, p. 1636-1645

Posted on on December 31, 2006

by Badrinath R. Konety, Geoffrey F. Joyce, Matthew Wise

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PURPOSE: While there are data available indicating the incidence and prevalence of bladder and upper tract urothelial cancer, population level data on resource use, costs and patterns of care for these cancers are limited. The authors quantified the economic impact of caring for patients with bladder and upper tract urothelial cancer, and determined the primary drivers for such costs in the population in the United States. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The analytical methods used to generate these results have been described previously. RESULTS: An increasing proportion of patients with bladder and upper tract urothelial cancer were being treated in the outpatient setting. Most care was provided by urologists and visit frequency was directly related to disease stage. Only a small proportion of patients potentially eligible for chemotherapy, ie those with advanced disease, sought specialized care from oncologists. Office based diagnostic tests such as cytology were not commonly done, although a substantial number of patients with bladder cancer underwent cystoscopy. The use of excretory urography in these patients was decreasing, while the use of computerized tomography was increasing. Ileal conduits were the most frequently performed type of urinary diversion following cystectomy. The cystectomy rate remained unchanged for a decade. Intravesical therapy was done infrequently in patients with bladder cancer. Annual costs for treating bladder and upper urinary tract cancers were $1 billion and $64 million, respectively, in 2000. These costs represented a $164 million increase over 1994 levels, which outpaced inflation. CONCLUSIONS: The costs of treating bladder cancer increased steadily during a 6-year period despite a decrease in inpatient care. Coupled with a lack of substantial change in transurethral resection and cystectomy rates, this suggests that the primary cost drivers are increased outpatient testing, eg computerized tomography and cystoscopy, and an increase in the number of diagnosed cases. Greater focus on selective use of testing modalities, preventive care such as smoking cessation and earlier identification of patients at risk may help curtail further expenditure with regard to managing bladder and upper urinary tract cancers.

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