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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Non-Clinical Medicine - Oncology - Science Policy

The Cost of Treating Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Estimates from the Chinese Experience
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Author: Xiaohui Zeng et al.

by Xiaohui Zeng, Jonathan Karnon, Siying Wang, Bin Wu, Xiaomin Wan, Liubao Peng


Because of the potentially significant economic burden of healthcare costs associated with many diseases, it is critical that regulatory and medical insurance organisations collect and utilise data on the cost-effectiveness of care provision to make rational policy decisions. However, little is known about healthcare costs in China.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Based on health expenditure data for 253 cases of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) registered at the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China between 2006 and 2010, the cost of care provision was analysed. The monthly and aggregate annual medical costs were estimated for patients who were in either a progression-free state (PFS) or a disease-progression state (DPS). Monthly healthcare costs accumulated during the terminal 3 months were collected separately. The mean cost of treatment for PFS and DPS patients over one year was approximately US$11,566 and $14,519, respectively. The monthly costs for all patients were higher initially than in the subsequent months (PFS: $2,490; DPS: $2,503). For PFS patients, healthcare expenditures stabilised after the 7th month, with a mean monthly medical expenditure of $82.49. For DPS patients, expenditures stabilised after the 9th month, and the mean expenditure during the 9th month was $307.9. Medical care costs in the three successive months prior to death were $3,754, $5,829 and $7,372, respectively.


The economic evaluation of health care technologies is becoming ever more important in China, especially in disease areas for which new and expensive therapies are being introduced on a regular basis. This is first paper to present empirically estimated China-specific costs associated with the treatment of NSCLC. The cost estimates are presented in a format that is specifically intended to inform cost-effectiveness analyses of treatments for NSCLC, and hence, contribute to the more efficient allocation of limited healthcare resources in China.