Cost-benefit of minimally invasive staging of non-small cell lung cancer: a decision tree sensitivity analysis

J Thorac Oncol. 2010 Oct;5(10):1564-70. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181e8b2e6.


Background: Accurate staging of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is critical for optimal management. Minimally invasive pathologic assessment of mediastinal lymphadenopathy is increasingly being performed. The cost-benefit (minimization of health care costs) of such approaches, in comparison with traditional surgical methods, is yet to be established.

Methods: Decision-tree analysis was applied to compare downstream costs of endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA), conventional TBNA, and surgical mediastinoscopy. Calculations were based on real costs derived from actual patient data at a major teaching hospital in Melbourne, Australia. One- and two-way sensitivity analyses were undertaken to account for potential variation in input parameter values.

Results: For the base-case analysis, initial evaluation with EBUS-TBNA (with negative results being surgically confirmed) was the most cost-beneficial approach (AU$2961) in comparison with EBUS-TBNA (negative results not surgically confirmed) ($3344), conventional TBNA ($3754), and mediastinoscopy ($8859). The sensitivity of EBUS-TBNA for detecting disease had the largest impact on cost, whereas the prevalence of mediastinal lymph node metastases determined whether surgical confirmation of negative EBUS-TBNA results remained cost-beneficial.

Conclusions: Our study confirms that minimally invasive staging of NSCLC is cost-beneficial in comparison with traditional surgical techniques. EBUS-TBNA was the most cost-beneficial approach for mediastinal staging of patients with NSCLC across all studied parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / economics*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Trees*
  • Endosonography
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / economics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mediastinoscopy
  • Neoplasm Staging / economics*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18