Background: Due to high survival rates and the relatively small benefit of adjuvant therapy, the application of personalized medicine (PM) through risk stratification is particularly beneficial in early breast cancer (BC) to avoid unnecessary harms from treatment. The new 21-gene assay (OncotypeDX, ODX) is a promising prognostic score for risk stratification that can be applied in conjunction with Adjuvant!Online (AO) to guide personalized chemotherapy decisions for early BC patients. Our goal was to evaluate risk-group specific cost effectiveness of adjuvant chemotherapy for women with early stage BC in Austria based on AO and ODX risk stratification.
Methods: A previously validated discrete event simulation model was applied to a hypothetical cohort of 50-year-old women over a lifetime horizon. We simulated twelve risk groups derived from the joint application of ODX and AO and included respective additional costs. The primary outcomes of interest were life-years gained, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs and incremental cost-effectiveness (ICER). The robustness of results and decisions derived were tested in sensitivity analyses. A cross-country comparison of results was performed.
Results: Chemotherapy is dominated (i.e., less effective and more costly) for patients with 1) low ODX risk independent of AO classification; and 2) low AO risk and intermediate ODX risk. For patients with an intermediate or high AO risk and an intermediate or high ODX risk, the ICER is below 15,000 EUR/QALY (potentially cost effective depending on the willingness-to-pay). Applying the AO risk classification alone would miss risk groups where chemotherapy is dominated and thus should not be considered. These results are sensitive to changes in the probabilities of distant recurrence but not to changes in the costs of chemotherapy or the ODX test.
Conclusions: Based on our modeling study, chemotherapy is effective and cost effective for Austrian patients with an intermediate or high AO risk and an intermediate or high ODX risk. In other words, low ODX risk suggests chemotherapy should not be considered but low AO risk may benefit from chemotherapy if ODX risk is high. Our analysis suggests that risk-group specific cost-effectiveness analysis, which includes companion prognostic tests are essential in PM.
Keywords: Adjuvant chemotherapy; Adjuvant!Online; Breast cancer; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Cost-utility analysis; Decision analysis; Discrete event simulation; OncotypeDX; Personalized medicine.