Imaging a target for cutting costs while maintaining care

A report published online in Lancet Oncology outlines several areas--including medical imaging--where oncologists can cut costs while maintaining the quality of care.

According to the report, by Thomas Smith, M.D., and Ronan Kelly, M.D.--both from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore--three categories of rising costs should be addressed: the increasing number of cancer cases in an aging population; the cost of pharmaceuticals; and medical imaging costs.

When it comes to reducing expensive and often unnecessary imaging, according to Smith and Kelly, PET and other scans often are used to detect cancer recurrence in patients after initial treatments, although there are studies that show that cure rates are just as good when recurrences are found through methods other than scans.

"The oncology community needs to have a greater responsibility in evaluating expensive tests, and limit their use to situations where there is strong evidence for benefit," Kelly said, according to an announcement.