Cost-effectiveness analysis of single fraction of stereotactic body radiation therapy compared with single fraction of external beam radiation therapy for palliation of vertebral bone metastases.


A Markov model, using a 1-month cycle over a lifetime horizon, was developed to compare the cost-effectiveness of SBRT (16 or 18 Gy in 1 fraction) with that of 8 Gy in 1 fraction of EBRT. Transition probabilities, quality of life utilities, and costs associated with SBRT and EBRT were captured in the model. Costs were based on Medicare reimbursement in 2014. Strategies were compared using the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), and effectiveness was measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). To account for uncertainty, 1-way, 2-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed. Strategies were evaluated with a willingness-to-pay (WTP) threshold of $100,000 per QALY gained.

SBRT for palliation of vertebral bone metastases is not cost-effective compared with EBRT at a $100,000 per QALY gained WTP threshold. However, if median survival is ≥11 months, SBRT costs ≤$100,000 per QALY gained, suggesting that selective SBRT use in patients with longer expected survival may be the most cost-effective approach.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) has been proposed for the palliation of painful vertebral bone metastases because higher radiation doses may result in superior and more durable pain control. A phase III clinical trial (Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 0631) comparing single fraction SBRT with single fraction external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) in palliative treatment of painful vertebral bone metastases is now ongoing. We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis to compare these strategies.

Base case pain relief after the treatment was assumed as 20% higher in SBRT. Base case treatment costs for SBRT and EBRT were $9000 and $1087, respectively. In the base case analysis, SBRT resulted in an ICER of $124,552 per QALY gained. In 1-way sensitivity analyses, results were most sensitive to variation of the utility of unrelieved pain; the utility of relieved pain after initial treatment and median survival were also sensitive to variation. If median survival is ≥11 months, SBRT cost <$100,000 per QALY gained.

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