Carcinoid Syndrome and Costs of Care During the First Year After Diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Tumors Among Elderly Patients

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AbstractBackground.Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can secrete hormonal peptides that lead to additional symptom burdens. However, it is largely unknown whether and to what extent the additional symptom burdens translate into higher costs of care. This study aimed to examine the cost pattern of elderly NET patients during the first year of diagnosis, taking into account of the carcinoid syndrome status.Methods.We used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Medicare data to identify elderly NET patients diagnosed between January 2003 and December 2011. Patients who had at least two claims indicative of carcinoid syndrome during the 3 months before and after the NET diagnosis were considered to have carcinoid syndrome. We adopted a payer’s perspective and quantified economic outcomes using the following three measures: (a) total Medicare reimbursement amount, (b) inpatient amount, and (c) outpatient amount. We used a generalized linear model (GLM) to examine the association between syndrome and costs.Results.Our study cohort included 6,749 elderly NET well‐differentiated and moderately differentiated patients. Of these patients, 5,633 (83%) were alive 1 year after diagnosis with continuous enrollment, and 1,116 (17%) died within 1 year. The multivariable GLM showed significant association between the syndrome and higher total, inpatient, and outpatient costs among the group who survived the whole year; the association was insignificant among the group who died within the first year of diagnosis.Conclusion.This population‐based study showed that NET patients with carcinoid syndrome incurred higher costs of care especially among those who survived the first year of diagnosis.Implications for Practice.This is the first population‐based study that examines the health care costs associated with carcinoid syndrome among neuroendocrine tumor patients. Among patients alive throughout the first year, the unadjusted analyses showed that total median monthly costs were above $1,000 higher ($3,801 vs. $2,481) for patients with carcinoid syndrome compared with patients without. A significant association was found between carcinoid syndrome and higher total inpatient and outpatient costs among the group that survived the whole year even after controlling for clinical factors, treatment received, and demographics and neighborhood socioeconomic status; the association was insignificant among the group that died within the first year of diagnosis.

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