A recently described noninvasive gene expression test (the pigmented lesion assay [PLA]) with adhesive patch–based sampling has the potential to rule out melanoma and the need for surgical biopsy of pigmented lesions suggestive of melanoma with a negative predictive value of 99% compared with 83% for the histopathologic standard of care. The cost implications of using this molecular test vs visual assessment followed by biopsy and histopathologic assessment (VAH) have not been evaluated.
Objective To determine potential cost savings of PLA use vs the VAH pathway.
Design, Setting, and Participants This health economic analysis performed from a US payer perspective was based on consensus treatment guidelines and fee schedules from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Data for model input were derived from routine use of the test in US dermatology practices and literature. Participants included patients with primary cutaneous pigmented lesions suggestive of melanoma. Data were analyzed from February 8 to December 1, 2017.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary analysis consisted of the relative reduction in costs of diagnostic surgical procedures for PLA vs VAH management. Additional analyses included stage-related treatment costs associated with delays in diagnosis.
Results In the cost analysis for this economic model, the relative reduction in surgical procedure costs (biopsy and subsequent excision), assuming $0 for the PLA to facilitate multiple comparison scenarios, was ?$395 compared with VAH. The relative reduction in stage-related treatment costs associated with the PLA was ?$433 compared with VAH, primarily associated with avoidance of delays due to false-negative diagnoses. Surveillance costs were reduced by ?$119 with the PLA. The total cost of fully adjudicating a lesion suggestive of melanoma by VAH was $947. At a mean selling price reference point for PLA of $500, cost savings of $447 (47%) per lesion tested could be realized.
Conclusions and Relevance The results of this analysis suggest that the PLA reduces cost and may improve the care of patients with primary pigmented skin lesions suggestive of melanoma.