Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy Versus Proton Therapy for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma

David J. Sher, Roy B. Tishler, Nhat Long Pham, Rinaa S. Punglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: To compared the cost-effectiveness of intensity modulated proton beam therapy (PBT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in the management of stage III-IVB oropharynx cancer (OPC). Methods and Materials: A Markov model was constructed to compare IMRT with PBT for a 65-year-old patient with stage IVA OPSCC. We assumed PBT led to a 25% reduction in long-term xerostomia, short-term dysgeusia, and the need for gastrostomy tube. Fewer dental complications were also expected with PBT. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated, and value of information analyses were performed. The societal willingness-to-pay was defined as $100K per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Results: The ICERs for PBT for favorable human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive OPC were $288,000/QALY and $390,000/QALY in the payer perspective (PP) and societal perspective, respectively. Under nearly every scenario, PBT was not cost-effective, with ICERs above $150,000/QALY in the PP. The ICERs for HPV-negative OPC were typically greater than $250K/QALY in both perspectives. For HPV-positive patients, the ICER was less than $100,000/QALY in the PP only in younger patients who experienced a 50% reduction in both xerostomia and gastrostomy use. On probabilistic sensitivity analyses, there were 0% and 0.4% probabilities that PBT was cost-effective for 65- and 55-year old patients, respectively. The value of information was zero or negligible for all ages and perspectives at willingness-to-pay of $100,000/QALY and only meaningful in the PP for younger patients at a willingness-to-pay of $150,000/QALY. Conclusions: Intensity modulated proton beam therapy was only cost-effective in the PP if assumed to achieve profound reductions in long-term morbidity for younger patients; it was never cost-effective in the societal perspective. Prospective data are needed (and may be valuable) to better characterize the comparative toxicities of these treatments but are unlikely to change this calculation, except potentially in the most favorable cohort of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-882
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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