Cost of patient follow-up after potentially curative colorectal cancer treatment

JAMA. 1995 Jun 21;273(23):1837-41.


Objective: To estimate the cost of follow-up among colorectal cancer patients treated with curative intent based on the broad spectrum of surveillance strategies suggested in the literature.

Design: Economic analysis of the costs associated with 11 separate surveillance strategies. Charge data were obtained from the Part B Medicare Annual Data file and the Hospital Outpatient Bill file.

Setting: Ambulatory care.

Main outcome measures: Medicare-allowed charges and an actual-charge proxy for 5 years of follow-up after treatment for colorectal cancer patients on a nationwide basis.

Results: Medicare-allowed charges varied widely for the 5 years of posttreatment follow-up from a low of $561 to a high of $16,492. When Medicare-allowed charges were converted to a proxy for actual charges using a conversion ratio of 1.62, the range was $910 to $26,717, a 28-fold difference in charges.

Conclusions: Charges vary extensively across follow-up strategies, with no indication that higher-cost strategies increase survival or quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / economics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / economics*
  • Fees, Medical
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / economics*
  • Recurrence
  • United States