Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cost-analysis of XELOX and FOLFOX4 for treatment of colorectal cancer to assist decision-making on reimbursement

Vicki C Tse1, Wai Tong Ng2, Victor Lee3, Anne WM Lee2, Daniel TT Chua3, June Chau1 and Sarah M McGhee1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

2 Department of Clinical Oncology, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Hong Kong

3 Department of Clinical Oncology, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:288  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-288

Published: 9 July 2011



XELOX (capecitabine + oxaliplatin) and FOLFOX 4 (5-FU + folinic acid + oxaliplatin) have shown similar improvements in survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (MCRC). A US cost-minimization study found that the two regimens had similar costs from a healthcare provider perspective but XELOX had lower costs than FOLFOX4 from a societal perspective, while a Japanese cost-effectiveness study found XELOX had superior cost-effectiveness. This study compared the costs of XELOX and FOLFOX4 in patients with MCRC recently treated in two oncology departments in Hong Kong.


Cost data were collected from the medical records of 60 consecutive patients (30 received XELOX and 30 FOLFOX4) from two hospitals. Drug costs, outpatient visits, hospital days and investigations were recorded and expressed as cost per patient from the healthcare provider perspective. Estimated travel and time costs were included in a societal perspective analysis. All costs were classed as either scheduled (associated with planned chemotherapy and follow-up) or unscheduled (unplanned visits or admissions and associated tests and medicines). Costs were based on government and hospital sources and expressed in US dollars (US$).


XELOX patients received an average of 7.3 chemotherapy cycles (of the 8 planned cycles) and FOLFOX4 patients received 9.2 cycles (of the 12 planned cycles). The scheduled cost per patient per cycle was $2,046 for XELOX and $2,152 for FOLFOX4, while the unscheduled cost was $240 and $421, respectively. Total treatment cost per patient was $16,609 for XELOX and $23,672 for FOLFOX4; the total cost for FOLFOX4 was 37% greater than that of XELOX. The addition of the societal costs increased the total treatment cost per patient to $17,836 for XELOX and $27,455 for FOLFOX4. Sensitivity analyses showed XELOX was still less costly than FOLFOX4 when using full drug regimen costs, incorporating data from a US model with costs and adverse event data from their clinical trial and with the removal of oxaliplatin from both treatment arms. Capecitabine would have to cost around four times its present price in Hong Kong for the total resource cost of treatment with XELOX to equal that of FOLFOX4.


XELOX costs less than FOLFOX4 for this patient group with MCRC from both the healthcare provider and societal perspectives.