Actinic keratosis is among the most commonly treated skin conditions in the outpatient setting. Its prevalence spans the globe, with greater distribution in fair skinned individuals and the immunocompromised. With high prevalence, increasing incidence and the risk of transformation to a cancerous lesion, prevention and timely treatment present opportunities to rein in costs.
The purpose of this article is to review published economic studies relating to the treatment of actinic keratosis, to summarize results discussing the cost drivers of current treatment modalities and to identify parameters most likely to influence the cost effectiveness of treatment.
We systematically conducted a published literature search for pharmacoeconomic research of actinic keratosis using title, abstract or full-text searches with the following search terms ([actinic OR solar] AND [keratosis OR keratoses]) AND (economic OR cost OR pharmacoeconomics OR decision). We included published articles referencing actinic keratosis in a standalone study or in a broader study referencing non-melanoma skin cancer and articles evaluating cost-of-illness, cost-of-treatment, cost minimization, cost effectiveness, cost utility, cost-benefit analysis and cost consequence.
Our review of the literature found nine studies devoted to pharmacoeconomic considerations of actinic keratosis treatments, with one article investigating both cost-of-illness and cost-of-treatment, two measuring cost-of-illness, two evaluating cost-of-treatment, one focusing on cost minimization, and three focusing on cost effectiveness. The literature compared a broad range of actinic keratosis treatments including topical medications, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, excision and a combination of treatment modalities. The direct cost of actinic keratosis management in the US was estimated at $US1.2 billion per year, with indirect costs totalling $US295 million (year 2004 values). The primary drivers of cost were physician office visits and associated procedures.
Pharmacoeconomic research defining standards, outcomes and areas of efficiencies in the treatment of actinic keratosis is in its infancy. To move towards more comprehensive analysis, research needs to focus on updating epidemiological data, evolving evidence-based standards, delineating cost drivers in immunocompetent and immunocompromised populations, and on health outcomes.