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Open Access Research

Cost of palliative radiation to the bone for patients with bone metastases secondary to breast or prostate cancer

Gregory Hess12*, Arie Barlev3, Karen Chung3, Jerrold W Hill1 and Eileen Fonseca1

Author Affiliations

1 IMS, One IMS Drive, Plymouth Meeting, PA, 19462, USA

2 Leonard Davis Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Colonial Penn Center, 3641 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA

3 Amgen Inc, One Amgen Center Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91320, USA

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Radiation Oncology 2012, 7:168  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-168

Published: 12 October 2012



To estimate the costs (paid amounts) of palliative radiation episodes of care (REOCs) to the bone for patients with bone metastases secondary to breast or prostate cancer.


Claims-linked medical records from patients at 98 cancer treatment centers in 16 US states were analyzed. Inclusion criteria included a primary neoplasm of breast or prostate cancer with a secondary neoplasm of bone metastases; ≥2 visits to ≥1 radiation center during the study period (1 July 2008 through 31 December 2009) on or after the metastatic cancer diagnosis date; radiation therapy to ≥1 bone site; and ≥1 complete REOC as evidenced by a >30-day gap pre- and post-radiation therapy.


The total number of REOCs was 220 for 207 breast cancer patients and 233 for 213 prostate cancer patients. In the main analysis (which excluded records with unpopulated costs) the median number of fractions per a REOC for treatment of metastases was 10. Mean total radiation costs (i.e., radiation direct cost + cost of radiation-related procedures and visits) per REOC were $7457 for patients with breast cancer and $7553 for patients with prostate cancer. Results were consistent in sensitivity analyses excluding patients with unpopulated costs.


In the US, current use of radiation therapy for bone metastases is relatively costly and the use of multi-fraction schedules remains prevalent.

Cost; Palliative radiation; Bone metastases secondary to breast or prostate cancer