Background: Survival for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has reached 80-90%. Future improvement in treatment success will involve new technologies and medication, adding to the pressure on limited financial resources. Therefore a retrospective cost-effectiveness analysis of ALL treatment with chemotherapy only according to the two most recent Dutch Childhood Oncology Group treatment protocols was performed. The most recent protocol ALL10 included more expensive medication (pegasparaginase) and implemented a new diagnostic technique (minimal residual disease levels) compared to the previous ALL9 protocol. Procedure: Fifty children from a single center cohort were included. All direct medical costs made during treatment, including those in satellite hospitals, were determined. Costs per life year saved (LYS) were calculated. The cost-effectiveness ratio of the most recent treatment protocol was determined. LYS were calculated based on national 5-year event-free survival. Results: Mean total costs were between $115,858 (ALL9) and $163,350 (ALL10) per patient. Hospital admissions (57%) and medication (11-17%) were important drivers of overall costs, and were higher in the most recent protocol ALL10. Costs per LYS were $1,962 (ALL9) and $2,655 (ALL10) and the cost-effectiveness ratio was $8,215. Conclusion: Treatment of childhood ALL with chemotherapy only is well within accepted ranges of cost-effectiveness. The use of new technology and more expensive medication in the most recent protocol ALL10 lead to higher costs but more LYS. In future (ALL) treatment protocols, costs in relation to effects should be taken into account in order to establish more cost-effective disease management without jeopardizing survival and quality of life.

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Pediatric Blood & Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Litsenburg, R., Uyl-de Groot, C., Raat, H., Kaspers, G., & Gemke, R. J. (2011). Cost-effectiveness of treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia with chemotherapy only: The influence of new medication and diagnostic technology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 57(6), 1005–1010. doi:10.1002/pbc.23197