Robotic radiosurgery vs. brachytherapy as a boost to intensity modulated radiotherapy for tonsillar fossa and soft palate tumors: the clinical and economic impact of an emerging technology.

Technology in cancer research & treatment

PubMedID: 17994791

Nijdam W, Levendag P, Fuller D, Schulz R, Prevost JB, Noever I, Uyl-de Groot C. Robotic radiosurgery vs. brachytherapy as a boost to intensity modulated radiotherapy for tonsillar fossa and soft palate tumors: the clinical and economic impact of an emerging technology. Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2007;6(6):611-20.
As a basis for making decisions regarding optimal treatment for patients with tonsillar fossa and soft palate tumors, we conducted a preliminary investigation of costs and quality of life (QoL) for two modalities [brachytherapy (BT) and robotic radiosurgery] used to boost radiation to the primary tumors following external beam radiotherapy. BT was well established in our center; a boost by robotic radiosurgery was begun more recently in patients for whom BT was not technically feasible. Robotic radiosurgery boost treatment has the advantage of being non-invasive and is able to reach tumors in cases where there is deep parapharyngeal tumor extension. A neck dissection was performed for patients with nodal-positive disease. Quality of life (pain and difficulty swallowing) was established in long-term follow-up for patients undergoing BT and over a one-year follow-up in robotic radiosurgery patients. Total hospital costs for both groups were computed. Our results show that efficacy and quality of life at one year are comparable for BT and robotic radiosurgery. Total cost for robotic radiosurgery was found to be less than BT primarily due to the elimination of hospital admission and operating room expenses. Confirmation of robotic radiosurgery treatment efficacy and reduced morbidity in the long term requires further study. Quality of life and cost analyses are critical to Health Technology Assessments (HTA). The present study shows how a preliminary HTA of a new medical technology such as robotic radiosurgery with its typical hypofractionation characteristics might be based on short-term clinical outcomes and assumptions of equivalence.