The available literature on the cost of radiotherapy yields a large variation in data, related to the specificity of the methodology used (viewpoint of the analysis, time frame, health care system etc) and to the cost components and radiotherapy activities included. To overcome this difficulty, the reimbursement paid by medical insurances is commonly used as a proxy for the actual radiotherapy costs. Costs, however, generally bear little or no resemblance to charges, as the latter also include allowances for non-capacity use and profit margins. Accurate resource cost data are therefore more valid and should ideally be used in the context of economic evaluations and public health provision.
In addition to the theoretical problems related to obtaining accurate costs, it is equally difficult to interpret cost data across country borders, because of differences in economics. If this is already the case for industrialised countries, using these cost data for developing countries is even more problematic. Thus, there clearly is a need for calculations performed from the viewpoint of developing countries to prevent misapprehensions based on conclusions derived from data from their industrialised counterparts.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) endeavours to assist Member States in accumulating appropriate and sufficient cost data for the initiation or expansion of radiation oncology services.