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Adverse Events From Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment Boost Costs

January 31, 2020

Just 29% of adults underwent treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in the year and a half following diagnosis, according to a study published in Cancer Medicine. 

“The finding that nearly two‐thirds of patients did not receive a cancer‐directed therapy after CLL diagnosis suggests that observation (‘watch‐and‐wait’) was the preferred initial approach during the study period,” researchers wrote. 

The retrospective study looked at real-world treatment patterns, adverse events, healthcare resource use, and costs for 7639 patients with CLL covered by private insurance in the United States. The median age of study participants was 66, and the median follow-up was 20.6 months after CLL diagnosis. 

According to the study, 18% of participants received systemic therapy. The most common first line of therapy was bendamustine/rituximab, while ibrutinib was most common in the second and third lines of therapy.

Patients treated with a systemic therapy had average monthly all-cause costs of $7,943; average monthly costs related to CLL were $5185. Average monthly all-cause costs rose with the number of adverse events experienced, the study found, from $905 for patients with no adverse events to $6032 for those with six or more adverse events.  

“This study shows that the adverse event burden associated with current treatments for CLL is substantial,” researchers wrote, “and the management of adverse events occurring during treatments may have a significant impact on overall healthcare costs.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Kabadi SM, Goyal RK, Nagar SP, Kaye JA, Davis KL. Treatment patterns, adverse events, and economic burden in a privately insured population of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in the United States. Cancer Med. 2019;8(8):3803–3810. doi:10.1002/cam4.2268

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