MONDAY, June 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Costs of treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) are significantly higher in Western Washington State (WW) than in British Columbia (BC), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held from June 1 to 5 in Chicago.

Todd Yezefski, M.D., from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, and colleagues identified patients with mCRC from the BC Cancer Agency database and a regional database linking WW Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results to claims for two large commercial insurers. Data were included for 1,622 BC patients and 575 WW patients.

The researchers found that a greater proportion of WW versus BC patients received systemic therapy (ST) (79 versus 68 percent; P < 0.001). The most common first-line regimen was irinotecan, 5-fluorouracil, and folinic acid plus bevacizumab in BC and oxaliplatin, 5-fluorouracil, and folinic acid in WW (32 and 39 percent, respectively). Per patient, the mean monthly cost of first-line therapy was significantly higher for WW ($12,345) than BC ($6,195). The mean lifetime monthly ST costs were also significantly higher for WW ($7,883) than for BC ($4,830). No significant difference was seen in the median overall survival among those receiving ST (21.4 and 22.1 months) or those not receiving ST (5.4 versus 6.3 months) for WW and BC, respectively.

“This study adds important context to the ongoing national conversation about rising treatment costs,” ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard Schilsky, M.D., said in a statement. “As oncologists, we see the burden of high costs on patients and their families every day. In fact, as ASCO’s National Cancer Opinion Survey shows, many patients even forgo, delay, or skimp on treatments due to costs, potentially compromising their effectiveness.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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