Cost-Utility Analysis of Continuation Versus Discontinuation of First-Line Chemotherapy in Patients With Metastatic Squamous-Cell Esophageal Cancer: Economic Evaluation Alongside the E-DIS Trial

Published:March 25, 2021DOI:


      • The efficacy of continuous chemotherapy in the treatment of metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma has not been demonstrated.
      • The cost utility of continuing chemotherapy in patients with nonprogressive metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is uncertain.
      • Chemotherapy discontinuation may be considered as an alternative therapeutic option to patients with stable disease after 6 weeks of initial treatment.



      Continuous chemotherapy has been used to treat patients with metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (mESCC), despite weak evidence supporting a clinical benefit, associated side effects for the patients, and unjustified medical costs. In the French setting, we conducted a cost-utility analysis alongside the randomized E-DIS trial (NCT01248299), which compared first-line fluorouracil/platinum-based chemotherapy continuation (CT-CONT) to CT discontinuation (CT-DISC) in progressive-free patients after an initial 6-week treatment phase.


      A partitioned survival analysis was performed using patient-level data collected during the trial for survival outcomes, quality of life (EQ-5D-3L), and medical costs. The mean quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and medical costs were estimated over an 18-month period to assess the incremental net monetary benefit and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. Uncertainty was handled using the nonparametric bootstrap and univariate analysis. Sixty-seven patients with mESCC were randomized and included in the cost-utility analysis.


      On average, CT-CONT slightly decreased the number of QALYs (-0.038) and increased the cost per patient (+ €1177). At a willingness-to-pay threshold of €50 000/QALY, the incremental net monetary benefit was negative (-€3077 [95% confidence interval: -6564; 4359]), and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was -30 958€/QALY (CT-CONT dominated). The probability of the CT-CONT treatment option being cost-effective at a willingness-to-pay threshold of €50 000/QALY, compared to CT-DISC, was 29%.


      CT-DISC may be considered as an alternative therapeutic option to CT-CONT in patients with mESCC who have stable disease after an initial chemotherapy treatment phase. A continuous chemotherapy could indeed reduce the number of QALYs because of the disutility associated with the continuous treatment.


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