Authors: Baser O, Wei W, Henk HJ, Teitelbaum A, Xie L.

Background: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) makes up 10-17% of all breast cancers and, due to lack of receptor expression, is unresponsive to therapies that target hormonal receptors or HER2. Unique in its tumor aggression and high rates of recurrence, TNBC is less likely to be detected by mammogram and has a poorer prognosis than other breast cancer subtypes (non-TNBC).

Objectives: To examine the survival, healthcare utilization, and healthcare cost for women with TNBC compared with non-TNBC breast cancer.

Methods: The study population was derived from a US managed care cancer registry linked to health insurance claims and social security mortality data. Based on initial type and stage at diagnosis, patients were divided into two cohorts: patients with TNBC and those with non-TNBC. Records were analyzed from initial diagnosis until death, disenrollment, or end of observation period. Survival and annual healthcare utilization and costs were estimated and compared between cohorts after adjusting for baseline demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and prior resource use. Subgroup analyses were performed in patients diagnosed with stage I-III and IV breast cancer.

Results: The study included women diagnosed with TNBC (n=450) and non-TNBC (n=1807). Median follow-up time for all patients was 716 days (688.5 and 733 days for TNBC and non-TNBC patients, respectively). After initial diagnosis, overall mortality risk for the TNBC cohort was twice as high as the non-TNBC cohort (HR=2.02, p<0.0001). Patients with TNBC had more annual hospitalizations, hospitalized days, and number of emergency room visits relative to non-TNBC. Despite similar annual total healthcare costs, adjusted inpatient costs for patients with non-TNBC averaged 77% higher ($8395 vs $4745, p<0.0001). Furthermore, payer reimbursements were higher for TNBC than non-TNBC patients ($8213 vs $4486, p<0.0001).

Conclusions: While it does not control for race or socioeconomic status, this study found that in a US managed care setting, patients with TNBC compared with non-TNBC have significantly shorter survival, accompanied by higher inpatient utilization and healthcare costs.

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