Hospitalizations and Cost of Inpatient Care for Physical Diseases in Survivors of Childhood Cancer in Western Australia: A Longitudinal Matched Cohort Study

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BACKGROUND: The long-term effects of childhood cancer are unclear in the Australian context. We examined hospitalization trends for physical diseases and estimated the associated inpatient care costs in all 5-year childhood cancer survivors (CCS) diagnosed in Western Australia (WA) from 1982 to 2014. METHODS: Hospitalization records for 2,938 CCS and 24,792 comparisons were extracted from 1987 to 2019 (median follow-up = 12 years, min = 1, max = 32). The adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of hospitalization with 95% confidence intervals (CI) was estimated using the Andersen-Gill model for recurrent events. The cumulative burden of hospitalizations over time was assessed using the mean cumulative count method. The adjusted mean cost of hospitalization was estimated using the generalized linear models. RESULTS: We identified a higher risk of hospitalization for all-cause (aHR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.8-2.2) physical disease in CCS than comparisons, with the highest risk for subsequent malignant neoplasms (aHR, 15.0; 95% CI, 11.3-19.8) and blood diseases (aHR, 6.9; 95% CI, 2.6-18.2). Characteristics associated with higher hospitalization rates included female gender, diagnosis with bone tumors, cancer diagnosis age between 5 and 9 years, multiple childhood cancer diagnoses, multiple comorbidities, higher deprivation, increased remoteness, and Indigenous status. The difference in the mean total hospitalization costs for any disease was significantly higher in survivors than comparisons (publicly funded $11,483 United States Dollar, P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The CCS population faces a significantly higher risk of physical morbidity and higher cost of hospital-based care than the comparisons. IMPACT: Our study highlights the need for long-term follow-up healthcare services to prevent disease progression and mitigate the burden of physical morbidity on CCS and hospital services.

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