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In-Office Treatment Safe for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Managing the disease in surgical centers almost doubles costs

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Non-melanoma skin cancer should be managed in an office-based setting because it is more cost-efficient, according to the results of a study published in the October issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

G. John Chen, Ph.D., M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues conducted a cost analysis of treatment of 372 non-melanoma skin cancer patients who received 497 episodes of care. Dermatologists treated half of the cases and two-thirds were managed at physicians' offices. For office-based management, the mean episode cost was $500, compared with $935 for treatment at an ambulatory surgical center and $4,345 in a hospital setting.

Controlling the cost of managing non-melanoma skin cancer is becoming a more pressing issue as incidence of the disease continues to rise, the authors write. It is already the most common cancer in the United States, and there are more cases than of all other cancers combined. Minimizing the number of patients referred for ambulatory surgical or hospital operation room treatment by identifying those who can be safely treated in an office-based setting will help curb costs.

"New regulations to limit office-based procedures are not likely to improve safety. Such regulations may result in large, unnecessary increases in Medicare costs for management of non-melanoma skin cancer," the authors conclude.

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