Objectives: Given the current-and increasing-pressure to limit expenditure on health care provision in many countries, a better understanding of the cost burden of colorectal cancer is needed. Cost-of-illness studies and reviews thereof can be a useful tool for analysing and critically evaluating the cost-related development of colorectal cancer, and they highlight important cost drivers.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted from 2002 to 2012 to identify cost-of-illness studies related to colorectal cancer, searching the Medline, PubMed, Science Direct, Cochrane Library and the York CRD databases.
Results: Among the 10 studies (from France, the US, Ireland and Taiwan) included in the review, 6 studies reported prevalence-based estimates and 4 studies focussed on incidence-based data. In the studies included in the review, long-term costs for colorectal cancer of up to $50,175 per patient (2008 values) were estimated. Most of the studies in the review showed that the initial and terminal phases of colorectal cancer care are the most expensive, with continuing treatment being the least costly phase. One study also highlighted that stage I CRC disease was the least costly and stage III the most costly of all 4 stages, due to the high cost impact of biological agents.
Conclusions: This review has highlighted a trend for rising costs associated with CRC, which is linked to the increasing use of targeted biological therapies. COI studies in colorectal cancer can identify specific components and areas of care that are especially costly, thereby focussing attention on more cost-effective approaches, which is especially relevant to the increased use of biological agents in the field of personalised medicine. COI studies are an important tool for further health economic evaluations of personalised medicine.