(HealthDay News) — There is considerable variation in listed charges for simple intensity-modulated radiation therapy used in prostate cancer treatment, with a weak positive association for price and geographic practice cost index, according to a study published online in JAMA Oncology.

Ankit Agarwal, MD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues isolated the charge per fraction of intensity-modulated radiation therapy used in standard prostate cancer treatment and then calculated the mean charges of a 28-fraction course of prostate irradiation. For 52 of the 63 designated hospitals, a price was listed for simple intensity-modulated radiation therapy.

The researchers found that the charges varied from $18,368 to $399,056 for a standard 28-fraction treatment, with a mean of $111,728.80 (10.1 times the price paid by Medicare). Price was weakly associated with geographic practice cost index, with an r² value of 0.13.

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“Providing cost data that is easy to understand and consistent from one hospital to the next is an important step in helping people to make informed decisions about their care and the associated costs,” Agarwal said in a statement. “This information also may lead to a more competitive health care marketplace, which could drive down costs if hospitals compete for patients.”


Agarwal A, Dayal A, Kircher SM, et al. Analysis of Price Transparency via National Cancer Institute–Designated Cancer Centers’ Chargemasters for Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy [published online January 16, 2020]. JAMA Oncol. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.5690