Health economic evaluation of stent or endoluminal brachytherapy as a palliative strategy in patients with incurable cancer of the oesophagus or gastro-oesophageal junction: results of a randomized clinical trial

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Dec;17(12):1369-77. doi: 10.1097/00042737-200512000-00017.


Objective: To relieve dysphagia is the main goal in palliative treatment of patients with incurable cancer of the oesophagus or the gastro-oesophageal junction. The aim of this prospective, randomized multicentre study was to compare stent placement and brachytherapy regarding health economy and clinical outcomes.

Methods: Patients with incurable cancer of the oesophagus or gastro-oesophageal junction were randomized to receive a self-expandable metallic stent or 3 x 7 Gy brachytherapy. At clinical follow-up visits, dysphagia was scored and health care consumptions were recorded. Costs were based on hospital debits. Total lifetime healthcare consumption costs and costs for the initial treatments were calculated and a sensitivity analysis was conducted.

Results: Thirty patients were randomized to each treatment group. There was no difference in survival or complication rates between the two treatment strategies. There was a significant difference in the change of dysphagia scores between the time of inclusion and the 1-month follow-up visit, in favour of the stented group (P = 0.03). This difference had disappeared at 3 months. Median total lifetime costs were 17,690 for the stented group compared with 33 171 for the brachytherapy group (P = 0.005). This difference was due to higher costs for the initial treatment (4615 versus 23 857, P < 0.0001). Sensitivity analyses showed that the charges for a brachytherapy session had to be reduced from 6092 to 4222 (31%) to make this therapeutic concept cost-competitive.

Conclusion: Stenting is currently more cost-effective compared with fractionated 3 x 7 Gy brachytherapy for patients with incurable cancer of the oesophagus and gastro-oesophageal junction.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Deglutition Disorders / economics
  • Deglutition Disorders / radiotherapy
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Esophagogastric Junction*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / economics*
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stents / economics*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome