Cost-effectiveness analysis of stereotactic body radiotherapy and radiofrequency ablation for medically inoperable, early-stage non-small cell lung cancer

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011 Dec 1;81(5):e767-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.10.074. Epub 2011 Feb 6.


Purpose: The standard management of medically inoperable Stage I non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) conventionally has been fractionated three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT). The relatively poor local control rate and inconvenience associated with this therapy have prompted the development of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), a technique that delivers very high doses of irradiation typically over 3 to 5 sessions. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has also been investigated as a less costly, single-day therapy that thermally ablates small, peripheral tumors. The cost-effectiveness of these three techniques has never been compared.

Methods and materials: We developed a Markov model to describe health states of 65-year-old men with medically inoperable NSCLC after treatment with 3D-CRT, SBRT, and RFA. Given their frail state, patients were assumed to receive supportive care after recurrence. Utility values, recurrence risks, and costs were adapted from the literature. Sensitivity analyses were performed to model uncertainty in these parameters.

Results: The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for SBRT over 3D-CRT was $6,000/quality-adjusted life-year, and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for SBRT over RFA was $14,100/quality-adjusted life-year. One-way sensitivity analysis showed that the results were robust across a range of tumor sizes, patient utility values, and costs. This result was confirmed with probabilistic sensitivity analyses that varied local control rates and utilities.

Conclusion: In comparison to 3D-CRT and RFA, SBRT was the most cost-effective treatment for medically inoperable NSCLC over a wide range of treatment and disease assumptions. On the basis of efficacy and cost, SBRT should be the primary treatment approach for this disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Radiosurgery / economics*
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / economics
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Burden