Open Access Open Badges Research article

Cost profiles of colorectal cancer patients in Italy based on individual patterns of care

Silvia Francisci1, Stefano Guzzinati2, Maura Mezzetti3, Emanuele Crocetti4, Francesco Giusti4, Guido Miccinesi4, Eugenio Paci4, Catia Angiolini5 and Anna Gigli6*

Author Affiliations

1 Centro Nazionale di Epidemiologia, Sorveglianza e Promozione della Salute, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italy

2 Registro Tumori del Veneto, Istituto Oncologico Veneto-IRCCS, Padova, Italy

3 Dipartimento SEFeMEQ, Università“Tor Vergata”, Roma, Italy

4 Registro Tumori della Regione Toscana-ISPO, Firenze, Italy

5 Dipartimento di Oncologia, ASF, Firenze, Italy

6 Istituto di Ricerche sulla Popolazione e le Politiche Sociali, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, via Palestro 32, 00185, Roma, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:329  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-329

Published: 5 July 2013



Due to changes in cancer-related risk factors, improvements in diagnostic procedures and treatments, and the aging of the population, in most developed countries cancer accounts for an increasing proportion of health care expenditures. The analysis of cancer-related costs is a topic of several economic and epidemiological studies and represents a research area of great interest to public health planners and policy makers. In Italy studies are limited either to some specific types of expenditures or to specific groups of cancer patients. Aim of the paper is to estimate the distribution of cancer survivors and associated health care expenditures according to a disease pathway which identifies three clinically relevant phases: initial (one year following diagnosis), continuing (between initial and final) and final (one year before death).


The methodology proposed is based on the reconstruction of patterns of care at individual level by combining different data sources, surveillance data and administrative data, in areas covered by cancer registration.


A total colorectal cancer-related expenditure of 77.8 million Euros for 18012 patients (corresponding to about 4300 Euros per capita) is estimated in 2006 in two Italian areas located in Tuscany and Veneto regions, respectively. Cost of care varies according to the care pathway: 11% of patients were in the initial phase, and consumed 34% of total expenditure; patients in the final (6%) and in the continuing (83%) phase consumed 23% and 43% of the budget, respectively. There is an association between patterns of care/costs and patients characteristics such as stage and age at diagnosis.


This paper represents the first attempt to attribute health care expenditures in Italy to specific phases of disease, according to varying treatment approaches, surveillance strategies and management of relapses, palliative care. The association between stage at diagnosis, profile of therapies and costs supports the idea that primary prevention and early detection play an important role in a public health perspective. Results from this pilot study encourage the use of such analyses in a public health perspective, to increase understanding of patient outcomes and economic consequences of differences in policies related to cancer screening, treatment, and programs of care.

Cancer registry; Prevalence; Administrative data; Direct costs; Care pathway