West U. Researcher Identifies Cost-Effective Cancer Test

March 11, 2010

A researcher from West University Place recently co-author a study that identifies the most cost-effective method of detecting bladder cancer, which could decrease costs and cut the number of false positives that sometimes result in emotional distress and unnecessary procedures.

Dr. Ashish Kamat lives in the 2900 block of Tangley Road and works as an associate professor of Urology and director of M. D. Anderson’s Urologic Oncology Fellowship Program. He co-authored the study with Dr. Jose Karam, a fellow in M. D. Anderson’s Department Genitourinary Oncology.

Early-stage bladder cancer, or non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, has a high rate of recurrence. Patients are tested every three to six months, often for the rest of their lives, with the goal of catching the cancer early if it returns.

Ashish Kamat

Ashish Kamat

The researchers found the best testing method for recurrence is cystoscopy, an outpatient procedure in which a tiny tube with a small camera attached is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Doctors then are able to visually examine the inside of the bladder for tumors. Many times, in efforts to ensure accuracy and early detection of bladder cancer recurrence, other tests are added to cystoscopy.

“The tests frequently added to cystoscopy have many more false positives than commonly believed, and they can lead to unnecessary work-ups. Our findings also may help reduce the cost of caring for bladder cancer patients, which currently in is the range of $4 billion annually,” Kamat said in a statement.

Using data from Medicare in 2009, the researchers looked at the number of tumors detected and the cost of the tests, plus the cost of work-ups for a false positive result. Researchers arrived at a cost per tumor detected for each method. Cystoscopy alone was the least expensive at $7,692, while cystoscopy plus fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was the priciest at $19,111.

But despite their added costs, additional tests did not give better results. Cystoscopy had two false positives, the fewest of any test, while cystoscopy plus FISH had the most false positives at 30.

Kamat said he would like to see the findings of this study confirmed in the near future by a multi-center co-operative study.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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