Jim L. Mulshine, MD of Rush University discusses costs of new lung cancer services and the aging population burdening current resources. There are new technologies like liquid biopsies and molecular techniques to find early lung cancer, but the cost associated with these is rather high. In the country, because of the aging population and other medical services, states are making tough decisions whether or not to pay their Medicare burdens, or the school systems or the roads. Theres a real concern about the cost in health care and medical oncologists are also very much concern about it because of the new therapies coming up with very expensive price tags, especially on the diagnostic component.
The CT scan, for example, costs around $57 for the technical component, plus professional service on top of it. So, the overall screening process will cost around $150. This is also true to the hundreds of tests that cost thousands of dollars, but with very interesting applications. So, doctors and medical practitioners should ponder how these services make sense.
Upfront, the CT scan is very robust, associated with sensitivity of 95% and specificity 99% according to the data published in the New England Journal from the Dutch study taken from their diagnostic workups. In the downstream, during the process of resecting tumor cells, a lot of them will be cured, however, not all of them. If the molecular machinery of the tumor cells are being observed, there are resections with more aggressive tumor cells and those that are less aggressive. This is the area for potential coupling of some molecular diagnostics with companion interventions that could be very helpful, like that in breast cancer for early management to enhance the curability of the early disease. In the end, money should be spent wisely, hence, win-win solutions should be carefully thought of.