Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Ultra-Hypofractionated Whole Breast Radiation Therapy Alone Versus Hormone Therapy Alone or Combined Treatment for Low-Risk ER-Positive Early Stage Breast Cancer in Women Aged 65 Years and Older.

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International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics


PURPOSE: The optimal management of early-stage, low-risk, hormone-positive breast cancer in older women remains controversial. Recent trials have shown that 5-fraction ultrahypofractionated whole-breast irradiation (U-WBI) has similar outcomes to longer courses, reducing the cost and inconvenience of treatment. We performed a cost-utility analysis to compare U-WBI to hormone therapy alone or their combination.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: We simulated 3 different treatment approaches for women age 65 years or older with pT1-2N0 ER-positive invasive ductal carcinoma treated with lumpectomy with negative margins using a Markov microsimulation model. The strategies were U-WBI performed with a 3-dimensional conformal technique over 5 fractions without a boost ("radiation therapy [RT] alone"), adjuvant hormone therapy (anastrozole for 5 years) without RT ("aromatase-inhibitor [AI] alone"), or the combination of the 2. The combination strategy was calibrated to match trial results, and the relative effectiveness of the RT alone and AI alone strategies were inferred from previous randomized trials. The primary endpoint was the cost-effectiveness of the 3 strategies over a lifetime horizon as measured by the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), with a value of $100,000/quality-adjusted life-year deemed "cost-effective."

RESULTS: The model results compared with the prespecified target outcomes. On average, RT alone was the least expensive strategy ($14,775), with AI alone slightly more ($14,998), and combination therapy the costliest ($19,802). RT alone dominated AI alone (the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio [ICER] -$5089). Combination therapy, compared with RT alone, was slightly more expensive than our definition of cost-effective (ICER $113,468) but was cost-effective compared with AI alone (ICER $54,451). Probabilistic sensitivity analysis demonstrated RT alone to be cost-effective in 50% of trials, with combination therapy in 36% and AI alone in 14%.

CONCLUSIONS: U-WBI alone appears the more cost-effective de-escalation strategy for these low-risk patients, compared with AI alone. Combining U-WBI and AI appears more costly but may be preferred by some patients.





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