Reassessing the value of high-volume cancer care in the era of precision medicine.
Cole AP, Sun M, Lipsitz SR, Sood A, Kibel AS, and Trinh QD. Reassessing the value of high-volume cancer care in the era of precision medicine. Cancer 2018; 124(7):1319-1321.
The ethical and economic discussions regarding the extreme costs of many new cancer therapies are familiar. The authors have long held that changes in cancer care delivery also are an important strategy, yielding large benefits at potentially far lower costs. To put this into context, the authors performed an analysis to compare the overall survival of patients receiving a complex oncologic surgery, radical cystectomy, at high-volume and low-volume centers. Propensity score weighting was performed to simulate random allocation into high-volume versus low-volume centers, as would be the case in a prospective trial. On average, patients undergoing surgery at high-volume centers survived 15 months longer than those treated at low-volume centers (57.0 months vs 41.8 months). Although there certainly are caveats in contrasting the survival benefit of different care settings with anticancer agents, this differential clearly rivals or exceeds the benefit of many expensive, recently approved agents. As the debate regarding the costs of cancer therapies continues, it is worth remembering that investments in simple systems-based changes to improve cancer care delivery remain an important and likely cost-effective strategy with which to improve the survival of patients with cancer. Cancer 2018;124:1319-21. © 2018 American Cancer Society.