Management, Surveillance Patterns, and Costs Associated with Low-Grade Papillary Stage Ta Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer among Older Adults, 2004-2013

Kelly K. Bree, Yong Shan, Patrick J. Hensley, Niyati Lobo, Chengrui Hu, Douglas S. Tyler, Karim Chamie, Ashish M. Kamat, Stephen B. Williams

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23 Scopus citations


Importance: Low-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) is associated with extremely low rates of progression and cancer-specific mortality; however, patients with low-risk NMIBC may often receive non-guideline-recommended and potentially costly surveillance testing and treatment. Objective: To describe current surveillance and treatment practices, cancer outcomes, and costs of care for low-grade papillary stage Ta (low-grade Ta) NMIBC and identify factors associated with increased cost of care. Design, Setting, and Participants: This population-based cohort study identified 13054 older adults (aged 66-90 years) diagnosed with low-grade Ta tumors in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-linked Medicare database from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2013. Medicare claims data through December 31, 2014, were also reviewed. Data were analyzed from April 1 to October 6, 2021. Exposures: Surveillance testing and treatment among patients with low-grade Ta NMIBC. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was patterns in population-level surveillance and treatment practice over time among patients with low-grade Ta NMIBC. Secondary outcomes were recurrence (defined as receipt of subsequent transurethral resection of bladder tumor >3 months after index diagnosis of NMIBC and initial transurethral resection of bladder tumor), progression (defined as receipt of definitive treatment for bladder cancer), and costs of care. Results: Among 13054 patients who met inclusion criteria, 9596 (73.5%) were male and 3458 (26.5%) were female, with a median age of 76 years (IQR, 71-81 years). A total of 403 patients (3.1%) were Black, 120 (0.9%) were Hispanic, 12 123 (92.9%) were White, and 408 (3.1%) were of other races and/or ethnicities. Rates of surveillance cystoscopy increased over the study period (from 79.3% in 2004 to 81.5% in 2013; P =.007), with patients receiving a median of 3.0 cystoscopies per year (IQR, 2.0-4.0 per year). Rates of upper tract imaging (particularly computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging) also increased over the study period (from 30.4% in 2004 to 47.0% in 2013; P <.001), with most patients receiving a median of 2.0 imaging tests per year (IQR, 1.0-2.0 per year). The use of urine cytologic testing or other urine biomarker assessment also increased (from 44.8% in 2004 to 54.9% in 2013; P <.001). Rates of adherence to current guidelines were similar over time (eg, a median of 4398 patients [55.2%] received ≤2 cystoscopies per year in 2004-2008 vs a median of 2736 patients [53.8%] in 2009-2013; P =.11), suggesting overuse of all surveillance testing modalities. With regard to treatment, 2250 patients (17.2%) received intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin, and 792 patients (6.1%) received intravesical chemotherapy (excluding receipt of a single perioperative dose). Among all patients with low-grade Ta NMIBC, 217 (1.7%) experienced disease recurrence and 52 (0.4%) experienced disease progression. The total annual median costs of low-grade Ta surveillance testing and treatment increased by 60% (from $34792 in 2004 to $53986 in 2013), with higher 1-year median expenditures noted among those with disease recurrence ($76669) vs no disease recurrence ($53 909) at the end of the study period. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, despite low rates of disease recurrence and progression, rates of surveillance testing increased during the study period. The annual cost of care also increased over time, particularly among patients with recurrent disease. Efforts to improve adherence to current practice guidelines, with the focus on limiting overuse of surveillance testing and treatment, may mitigate associated increasing costs of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E223050
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 18 2022

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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