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Radiation costing methods: a systematic review


Objective — Costs for radiation therapy (RT) and the methods used to cost RT are highly diverse across the literature. To date, no study has compared various costing methods in detail. Our objective was to perform a thorough review of the radiation costing literature to identify sources of costs and methods used.

Methods — A systematic review of Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid OLDMEDLINE, EMBASE, Ovid HealthStar, and EconLit from 2005 to 23 March 2015 used search terms such as “radiation,” “radiotherapy,” “neoplasm,” “cost,” “ cost analysis,” and “cost benefit analysis” to locate relevant articles. Original papers were reviewed for detailed costing methods. Cost sources and methods were extracted for papers investigating RT modalities, including three-dimensional conformal RT (3D-CRT), intensity-modulated RT (IMRT), stereotactic body RT (SBRT), and brachytherapy (BT). All costs were translated into 2014 U.S. dollars.

Results — Most of the studies (91%) reported in the 33 articles retrieved provided RT costs from the health system perspective. The cost of RT ranged from US$2,687.87 to US$111,900.60 per treatment for IMRT, followed by US$5,583.28 to US$90,055 for 3D-CRT, US$10,544.22 to US$78,667.40 for BT, and US$6,520.58 to US$19,602.68 for SBRT. Cost drivers were professional or personnel costs and the cost of RT treatment. Most studies did not address the cost of RT equipment (85%) and institutional or facility costs (66%).

Conclusions — Costing methods and sources were widely variable across studies, highlighting the need for consistency in the reporting of RT costs. More work to promote comparability and consistency across studies is needed.



Rahman F, Seung SJ, Cheng SY, Saherawala H, Earle CC, Mittmann N. Curr Oncol. 2016; 23(4):e392-408.

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