Economic analysis of FDG-PET–guided management of the neck after primary chemoradiotherapy for node-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma9

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BackgroundThe aim of this economic analysis was to model different strategies using pre-treatment nodal stage or nodal response assessment with CT or positron emission tomography (PET)/CT to determine the need for neck dissection.MethodsA cost-minimization analysis was developed on the basis of probability data from a prospective study of PET-guided management of the neck in patients achieving a complete response at the primary site. Costs were derived from our institution's activity-based clinical costing system. The effect of uncertainty was tested with sensitivity and scenario analyses including nationally representative cost data.ResultsStrategies incorporating PET had a 7% rate for neck dissection compared with 44% for CT-guided and 90% for planned neck dissection. The cost per patient was A$16,502 for planned neck dissection, A$8014 for CT-guided, and A$2573 for PET-guided. A policy with PET used only for incomplete response on CT was the least-cost strategy (A$2111). Policies incorporating PET remained the most efficient for all sensitivity/scenario analyses.ConclusionThe incorporation of PET/CT into nodal response assessment significantly reduced the number of unnecessary neck dissections and generated considerable cost savings in our cohort. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2013

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