Objective: The aim of the present study was to estimate the cost of treating patients with lung cancer at their end-of-life (EOL) phase of care in Greece.
Materials & methods: A hospital-based retrospective study was conducted in the Oncology Unit of 'Sotiria' Hospital, in Athens, Greece. All lung cancer patients who died between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2018 with at least 6 months follow-up were enrolled in the study. Healthcare resource utilization data, including inpatient and outpatient ones, during the last 6 months before death was extracted from a registry kept in the unit. These data were combined with the corresponding local unit costs to calculate the 6, 3 and 1-month EOL cost in €2019 values.
Results: A total of 122 patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean (standard deviation) age at diagnosis was 67.8 (8.9) years with 78.7% of patients being male and 55.0% diagnosed at stage IV. About 52.5% of patients had been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, 28.7% with squamous non-small-cell lung cancer types and 18.9% with small-cell-lung cancer. The median overall survival of these patients was 10.8 months. During the EOL periods, the mean cost/patient in the last 6, 3 and 1 month were €7665, €3351, and €1009, respectively. Pharmaceutical cost was the key driver of the total cost (75% of the total 6-month) followed by radiation therapy (16.2%). The median EOL 6-month cost was marginally statistically significantly higher among patients with adenocarcinoma (€9031) compared with squamous (€6606) and to small-cell-lung cancer (€5474).
Conclusion: The findings of the present study indicate that lung cancer treatment incurs high costs in Greece, mainly attributed to pharmaceutical expenses, even at the EOL phase.