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Research shows that chemotherapy for inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) improves survival. The economic implications of this treatment choice may be substantial. This paper reviews studies examining the cost-effectiveness of chemotherapy in this setting. MEDLINE, PDQ, Cancerlit, EMBASE, and the Nursing & Allied Health databases were searched using the terms cost, cost-effectiveness, chemotherapy, and non-small-cell lung cancer. The search identified 17 studies. Most of these studies utilized data from various sources to model the impact and cost of chemotherapy. The remaining studies were concurrent or retrospective analyses of individual clinical trials. Findings suggest that chemotherapy for stages IIIb and IV non-small-cell lung cancer can be cost-effective and, in some cases, may actually be less expensive than supportive care alone. Economic analyses also indicate that allocating resources for chemotherapy in this setting can be justified relative to many treatment expenditures for other types of cancer and other disease. Application of these findings may be hindered by the wide variety of techniques used and by several methodologic issues, including the failure to address patients' treatment preferences. Yet, economic analyses of inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer can provide important information to complement survival and quality-of-life data in resource allocation decisions.

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