Diagnostic Lung Biopsies a Big Drain on Medicare, Study Finds

The retrospective study, results of which were presented at the 2014 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology, showed that the total diagnostic workup cost for the study sample of Medicare beneficiaries was $38.3 million.

The study examined the utilization rates and estimated the Medicare costs of the lung cancer diagnostic workup in patients who had an abnormal chest computed tomography (CT) scan. The results of this study show that the total diagnostic workup cost for the study sample of patients was $38.3 million. Of the total diagnostic workup cost, 43.1 percent ($16.5 million) is attributed to the biopsy costs for the 761 patients in the study sample who had negative biopsies and who were not diagnosed with lung cancer during the following year.

Biopsies were found to be the most costly tool prescribed in lung cancer diagnosis, according to research presented today at the 2014 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology. The Symposium is sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and The University of Chicago Medicine.

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