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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

Topic Suggestion Description

View Topic Suggestion Disposition (PDF) 1.2 MB

Date submitted: November 19, 2013

Briefly describe a specific question, or set of related questions, about a health care test or treatment that this program should consider.
For adult patients (especially the elderly) with non-melanoma skin cancers, what are the compartive risks and benefits of treatment with surgery versus treatment with radiation (either external beam or brachytherapy).


Describe why this topic is important.
Over the last few years several manufacturers have developed and aggressively promoted devices for radiation of skin cancers. Usual treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers is by surgival removal or destruction. The medical expense is much greater when treated with radiation ($200 for surgical removal versus $15,000 for radiation. There are two main radiation techniques used, external beam and brachytherapy. A major concern is the potential for extensive radiation exposure that may be unnecessary.

Potential Impact

How will an answer to your research question be used or help inform decisions for you or your group?
A well documented answer will allow Medicare contractors to make policy decisions to allow well considered patient management.

Nominator Information

Other Information About You: (optional)
Please choose a description that best describes your role or perspective: (you may select more than one category if appropriate)
Medicare Contractor Medical Director
If you are you making a suggestion on behalf of an organization, please state the name of the organization
Please tell us how you heard about the Effective Health Care Program
Presentations to the Medicare Medical Directors