CVS study: Broad-panel sequencing lowers long-term cancer care costs

Broad-panel genomic sequencing may bring down the overall cost of care for cancer patients, a recent CVS study shows. 

CVS Health researchers released an analysis on the cost difference between offering cancer patients broad-panel and narrow-panel sequencing at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting last month. 

The study identified 45 lung cancer patients who were given broad-panel sequencing and 399 who underwent narrow-panel sequencing from January 2018 to March 2019. And they found that while broad-panel costs more upfront, total costs for cancer care were lower as the genomic testing allowed for more targeted interventions. 

Average costs for broad-panel sequencing were $1,977 while narrow-panel sequencing cost, on average, $819. 

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However, on average, the six-month per member per month costs for those who underwent broad-panel sequencing was $11,535 compared to $20,039 for those who were given the narrow-panel screening. 

That savings of $8,504 is statistically significant, the researchers said. Findings like this are critical, the researchers said, as there are relatively few payers who reimburse broad-panel sequencing at present. 

However, having the data from a broad-panel genomic sequence enables oncologists to make more targeted decisions that can improve care overall—and trim the long-term costs in treating cancer patients, the researchers said. 

“An understanding that there may be more than one driver mutation associated with a specific lung tumor is crucial for the timing and delivery of the most effective line of therapy,” they wrote. “Broad-panel sequencing minimizes tissue use and enables personalized treatment that decreases the use of ineffective agents and unwarranted side effects, in addition to opening pathways to early clinical trials.”