Cost-Utility Analysis of Major System Change in Specialist Cancer Surgery in London, England, Using Linked Patient-Level Electronic Health Records and Difference-in-Differences Analysis

Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2022 Nov;20(6):905-917. doi: 10.1007/s40258-022-00745-w. Epub 2022 Jul 22.


Background: Studies have shown that centralising surgical treatment for some cancers can improve patient outcomes, but there is limited evidence of the impact on costs or health-related quality of life.

Objectives: We report the results of a cost-utility analysis of the RESPECT-21 study using difference-in-differences, which investigated the reconfiguration of specialist surgery services for four cancers in an area of London, compared to the Rest of England (ROE).

Methods: Electronic health records data were obtained from the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service for patients diagnosed with one of the four cancers of interest between 2012 and 2017. The analysis for each tumour type used a short-term decision tree followed by a 10-year Markov model with 6-monthly cycles. Costs were calculated by applying National Health Service (NHS) Reference Costs to patient-level hospital resource use and supplemented with published data. Cancer-specific preference-based health-related quality-of-life values were obtained from the literature to calculate quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Total costs and QALYs were calculated before and after the reconfiguration, in the London Cancer (LC) area and in ROE, and probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed to illustrate the uncertainty in the results.

Results: At a threshold of £30,000/QALY gained, LC reconfiguration of prostate cancer surgery services had a 79% probability of having been cost-effective compared to non-reconfigured services using difference-in-differences. The oesophago-gastric, bladder and renal reconfigurations had probabilities of 62%, 49% and 12%, respectively, of being cost-effective at the same threshold. Costs and QALYs per surgical patient increased over time for all cancers across both regions to varying degrees. Bladder cancer surgery had the smallest patient numbers and changes in costs, and QALYs were not significant. The largest improvement in outcomes was in renal cancer surgery in ROE, making the relative renal improvements in LC appear modest, and the probability of the LC reconfiguration having been cost-effective low.

Conclusions: Prostate cancer reconfigurations had the highest probability of being cost-effective. It is not clear, however, whether the prostate results can be considered in isolation, given the reconfigurations occurred simultaneously with other system changes, and healthcare delivery in the NHS is highly networked and collaborative. Routine collection of quality-of-life measures such as the EQ-5D-5L would have improved the analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Electronic Health Records
  • England
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • State Medicine