Colorectal Cancer Treatment Half the Cost in Canada Than In US with Similar Outcomes

Tony Hagen
Published Online: Saturday, June 2nd, 2018
A study that compared costs of treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer in Western Washington (WW) and the province of British Columbia (BC) in Canada found that prices were more than twice as high for the United States patients than for their Canadian counterparts, with no significant difference in outcomes, investigators reported at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting.1

Mean per-patient costs for all chemotherapy treatments were $12,345 per month in WW and $6195 per month in BC. Median overall survival (OS) times for those on systemic therapy were 21.4 months in WW (95% CI, 18.0-26.2) versus 22.1 months in BC (95% CI, 20.5-23.7). Mean OS for all patients was 17.4 months (95% CI, 13.2-20.5) versus 16.9 months (95% CI, 15.7-18.2), respectively.

The most common initial systemic treatment in BC was irinotecan, 5-fluorouracil, and folinic acid (FOLFIRI) chemotherapy plus bevacizumab (Avastin). In WW, the majority of patients received oxaliplatin, 5-fluorouracil, and folinic acid (FOLFOX) chemotherapy.

Investigators said the findings show that United States oncologic care doesn’t have to be as costly as it is. “Both systems work,” Hagen F. Kennecke, MD, MHA, one of the study authors, said in a press release.“Patients are getting treated and surviving much longer than they used to. The US system is more expensive and treats more patients. One system is more cost-effective than the other. We can learn from each other.” Kennecke is the medical director at Virginia Mason’s Cancer Institute in Seattle, Washington.

Read more on the story at

  1. Yezefski T, Le D, Chen L, et al. Comparison of systemic therapy use, cost and survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer in Western Washington, US, and British Columbia, Canada. J Clin Oncol. 2018;36(suppl;abstr LBA3579).
  2. Russell S. At half the cost, Canadian colorectal cancer survival similar to U.S. [press release] Seattle, WA: Fred Hutch News Service; June 1, 2018. Accessed June 1, 2018.

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