Background — Little is known about resource use in the care of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). This study defined patterns of costs in NET management and compared them with those of a more common malignancy, colon cancer (CC).
Methods — Using a provincial cancer registry (2004-2012), NET patients were identified and matched at a ratio of 1-3 with CC patients. Four phases of care were examined: pre-diagnostic (PreDx: -2 years to -181 days), diagnostic (Dx: -180 days to +180 days), postdiagnostic (PostDx: +181 days to +3 years), and prolonged post-diagnostic (PPostDx: +181 days to +9 years). The mean costs per patient were compared, and cost predictors were analyzed with quintile regression.
Results — Of 3827 NETs, 3355 were matched with 9320 CCs. The PreDx mean NET costs were higher than the CC costs ($5877 vs $5368; p = 0.06), driven by nondrug costs. They were lower in the Dx and PostDx phases (both p < 0.01). For PPostDx, the drug costs were higher for NETs ($26,788 vs $7827; p < 0.01), representing 41% of the costs versus 16% of the costs for CC. Older age and comorbidities predicted higher NET costs in all phases. Lower socioeconomic status (SES) predicted higher costs in the initial phases and higher SES costs in the PPost-Dx phase. Gastroenteric NETs were associated with lower costs in the Dx phase [parameter estimate (PE), -$13,644] and pancreatic NETs with higher costs in PostDx phase (PE, $3348).
Conclusion — Currently, NETs represent a potential important health care burden. The NET cost patterns differed from those for CC, with the highest costs during the PPostDx phase. The SES and primary NET site affected costs differently at different time points. These data can inform resource allocation tailored to the needs for NETs.