The incidence and prevalence of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are continually increasing. While it is known that NET symptoms often predate diagnosis, their prevalence and impact on resource utilization and costs are largely unknown. We identified 9,319 elderly patients diagnosed with NETs between 1/2003 and 12/2011 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare. We examined the patients’ conditions potentially associated with NET, resource utilization and costs during the year before diagnosis. We found that NET patients were more likely to have diagnoses of hypertension (63.8% vs. 53.3%), abdominal pain (22.2% vs. 7.6%), heart failure (11.7% vs. 8.0%), diarrhea (5.8% vs. 1.8%), peripheral edema (5.4% vs. 3.8%) and irritable bowel syndrome (1.2% vs. 0.5%) compared to the non-cancer control group. They also had much higher resource utilization including number of outpatient visits (mean: 22.1 vs. 17.2), percentage with ER visits (20.9% vs. 11.6%), and hospitalizations (28.4% vs. 17.0%). Similarly, NET patients incurred significantly higher total (mean: $14602 vs. $9464), outpatient (mean: $5987 vs. $4253), and inpatient costs (mean: $8615 vs. $5211). This first population-based study on the pre-diagnosis symptoms and healthcare utilization found that NET patients were more likely to have certain conditions and incur higher resource utilizations and costs.
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