Various randomized controlled trials have found that hypofractionated whole breast irradiation (HF-WBI) for certain patients with early-stage breast cancer is not only equivalent to standard radiation therapy for local control of the disease but also is less toxic, has better patient adherence and provides improved patient well-being. Those results led the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to add the approach to its guidelines. But while hypofractionation can benefit patients, providers and health plans, there has been slow uptake of it. A recent study found that putting clinical pathways in place that include mandating HF-WBI’s use improved compliance with the guidelines.
One retrospective study found that health plans spent $6,375 less for HF-WBI than they spent on conventional whole breast irradiation, and patients saved about $140 aside from travel-related costs.