The purpose of this study is to describe the distribution of diagnostic procedures, rates of complications, and total cost of biopsies for patients with lung cancer.
Patients and Methods: Observational study using data from IBM Marketscan® Databases for continuously insured adult patients with a primary lung cancer diagnosis and treatment between July 2013 and June 2017. Costs of lung cancer diagnosis covered 6 months prior to index biopsy through treatment. Costs of chest CT scans, biopsy, and post-procedural complications were estimated from total payments. Costs of biopsies incidental to inpatient admissions were estimated by comparable outpatient biopsies.
The results included a database of 22,870 patients who had a total of 37,160 biopsies, of which 16,009 (43.1%) were percutaneous, 14,997 (40.4%) bronchoscopic, 4072 (11.0%) surgical and 2082 (5.6%) mediastinoscopic. Multiple biopsies were performed on 41.9% of patients. The most common complications among patients receiving only one type of biopsy were pneumothorax (1304 patients, 8.4%), bleeding (744 patients, 4.8%) and intubation (400 patients, 2.6%). However, most complications did not require interventions that would add to costs. Median total costs were highest for inpatient surgical biopsies ($29,988) and lowest for outpatient percutaneous biopsies ($1028). Repeat biopsies of the same type increased costs by 40– 80%. Complications account for 13% of total costs.
Conclusion: Costs of biopsies to confirm lung cancer diagnosis vary substantially by type of biopsy and setting. Multiple biopsies, inpatient procedures and complications result in higher costs.