Cost-effectiveness of proton therapy in treating base of skull chordoma

Australas Phys Eng Sci Med. 2019 Dec;42(4):1091-1098. doi: 10.1007/s13246-019-00810-0. Epub 2019 Oct 23.


While proton beam therapy (PBT) can offer increased sparing of healthy tissue, it is associated with large capital costs and as such, has limited availability. Furthermore, it has not been well established whether PBT has significant clinical advantages over conventional volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) for all tumour types. PBT can potentially offer improved clinical outcomes for base of skull chordoma (BOSCh) patients compared with photon (X-ray) therapy, however the cost-effectiveness of these treatments is unclear. In this study, the cost-effectiveness of PBT in the treatment of BOSCh patients is assessed, based on an analysis of comparative radiotherapy treatment plans using a radiobiological Markov model. Seven BOSCh patients had treatment plans for the delivery of intensity modulated proton therapy and VMAT retrospectively analysed. The patient outcome (in terms of tumour local control and normal tissue complications) after receiving each treatment was estimated with a radiobiological Markov model. In addition, the model estimated the cost of both the primary treatment and treating any resultant adverse events. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was obtained for each patient. PBT was found to be cost-effective for 5 patients and cost-saving for 2. The mean ICER was AUD$1,990 per quality adjusted life year gained. Variation of model parameters resulted in the proton treatments remaining cost-effective for these patients. Based on this cohort, PBT is a cost-effective treatment for patients with BOSCh. This supports the inclusion of PBT for BOSCh in the Medicare Services Advisory Committee 1455 application.

Keywords: Base of skull chordoma; Cost-effectiveness; Markov model; Proton therapy; Radiobiological models.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chordoma / economics*
  • Chordoma / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Proton Therapy / economics*
  • Quality of Life
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / economics*
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / therapy*