Facing advanced cancer, who among us wouldn’t look to our oncologist for expert advice on whether another round of chemotherapy makes sense? But do you know what your oncologist cares about, and can you be sure her recommendations map onto your own treatment preferences?
A recent study lead by Michael Kozminski (I was senior author) shows that American oncologists downplay the value of treatments that improve quality of life, compared to the value they place on life prolonging treatments.
In our study, we surveyed oncologists across the United States and presented them with hypothetical treatment scenarios, to see what value they placed on potential treatments for patients with advanced cancer.
In one scenario, we estimated how cost-effective a new life prolonging chemotherapy would need to be before oncologists prescribed it. We described the chemotherapy as prolonging patients’ lives, but also explained that we had no other data on how it impacted quality of life. On average, we found that oncologists would be willing to spend as much as $200,000 for every year of life gained by this new treatment.