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Research: Precision Medicine May Improve Survival in Late-Stage Cancer, Lower Costs

March 23, 2018
by Heather Landi
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A precision medicine study conducted by researchers from Intermountain Precision Genomics and Stanford University School of Medicine indicates that precision oncology may improve overall survival and lower healthcare costs for advanced cancer patients.

Lincoln D Nadauld, M.D., Precision Genomics Program, Intermountain Healthcare (Saint George, UT), and Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a study to determine the overall survival and health care costs associated with precision oncology in patients with advanced cancer.

Researchers utilized a matched cohort of 44 patients with metastatic cancer who received their care at a single institution from July 2013 through January 2015. Researchers compared data from 22 patients who received genomic testing and targeted therapy with data from 22 patients who received standard chemotherapy or best supportive care.

The study was published in the February issue of the cancer research journal Oncotarget.

The study found that the median overall survival of the precision medicine group was double that of those who did not receive targeted therapy. They also found that those who underwent precision therapy had about 7 percent lower healthcare-related costs in the last three months of life as compared to those who underwent standard therapy.

After matching for age, gender, histological diagnosis, and previous treatment lines, researchers found that the median overall survival was 51.7 weeks for patients receiving targeted treatment after precision oncology compared with 25.8 weeks for patients receiving chemotherapy or supportive care. Average costs over the study period were $2,720 per week for patients receiving targeted therapy compared with $3,453 per week for those receiving chemotherapy or supportive care.

“Precision oncology strategies may improve overall survival (OS) for patients with refractory cancer while lowering the average per-week health care costs, resource utilization, and end-of-life costs,” the researchers wrote. “Previous studies have examined the impact of precision oncology methods—such as next-generation sequencing-based gene panel testing—on guiding treatment decisions for patients with late-stage cancer. However, the resulting OS trends and associated costs of such methods have yet to be evaluated.”

In a news release about the study, first author on the study, Derrick Haslem, M.D., director of medical oncology at Intermountain Healthcare, said, “Any time we can improve overall survival and quality of life, that’s a win-win situation for the patients, their families, and health professionals.

“This study shows healthcare costs were actually less per week of life in the targeted therapy approach versus the standard chemotherapy approach,” Haslem said. “Not only were patients living longer, but the costs to actually care for those patients were less. Additionally, based on the findings, there were fewer inpatient stays and emergency room visits, and patients enjoyed a better quality of life because they didn’t have to spend time in the hospital. They had more time to spend with the people they love.”


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