Direct Costs of Care for Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients With Hepatitis C Cirrhosis

Cancer. 2016 Mar 15;122(6):852-8. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29855. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the commonest cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the United States. The benefits of HCV therapy may be measured in part by the prevention of HCC and other complications of cirrhosis. The true cost of care of the HCV patient with HCC is unknown.

Methods: One hundred patients were randomly selected from a cohort of all HCC patients with HCV at a US transplant center between 2003 and 2013. Patients were categorized by the primary treatment modality, Barcelona class, and ultimate transplant status. Costs included the unit costs of procedures, imaging, hospitalizations, medications, and all subsequent care of the HCC patient until either death or the end of follow-up. Associations with survival and cost were assessed in multivariate regression models.

Results: Overall costs included a median of $176,456 (interquartile range [IQR], $84,489-$292,192) per patient or $6279 (IQR, $4043-$9720) per patient-month of observation. The median costs per patient-month were $7492 (IQR, $5137-$11,057) for transplant patients and $4830 for nontransplant patients. The highest median monthly costs were for transplant patients with Barcelona A4 disease ($11,349) and patients who received chemoembolization whether they underwent transplantation ($10,244) or not ($8853). Transarterial chemoembolization and radiofrequency ablation were independently associated with a 28% increase and a 22% decrease in costs, respectively, with adjustments for the severity of liver disease and Barcelona class.

Conclusions: These data represent real-world estimates of the cost of HCC care provided at a transplant center and should inform economic studies of HCV therapy.

Keywords: liver cancer; liver disease; liver transplant; tumor; viral hepatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / economics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / economics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology
  • Liver Transplantation / economics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • United States