Review and special article| Volume 43, ISSUE 5, P537-545, November 2012

Melanoma Treatment Costs

A Systematic Review of the Literature, 1990–2011


      Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and an important public health concern. Given the substantial health burden associated with melanoma, it is important to examine the economic costs associated with its treatment. The purpose of the current study was to systematically review the literature on the direct medical care costs of melanoma.

      Evidence acquisition

      A systematic review was performed using multiple databases including MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Econlit. Nineteen articles on the direct medical costs of melanoma were identified.

      Evidence synthesis

      Detailed information on the study population, study country/setting, study perspective, costing approach, disease severity (stage), and key study results were abstracted. The overall costs of melanoma were examined as well as per-patient costs, costs by phase of care, stage of diagnosis, and setting/type of care. Among studies examining all stages of melanoma, annual treatment costs ranged from $44.9 million among Medicare patients with existing cases to $932.5 million among newly diagnosed cases across all age groups.


      Melanoma leads to substantial direct medical care costs, with estimates varying widely because of the heterogeneity across studies in terms of the study setting, populations studied, costing approach, and study methods. Melanoma treatment costs varied by phase of care and stage at diagnoses; costs were highest among patients diagnosed with late-stage disease and in the initial and terminal phases of care. Aggregate treatment costs were generally highest in the outpatient/office-based setting; per-patient/per-case treatment costs were highest in the hospital inpatient setting. Given the substantial costs of treating melanoma, public health strategies should include efforts to enhance both primary prevention (reduction of ultraviolet light exposure) and secondary prevention (earlier detection) of melanoma.
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