MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers who analyzed 10 years of Medicare claims found costs and other nonmedical issues drive the use of radiation to ease cancer symptoms for patients in the final weeks of life. Costs for patients who got radiation were $3,453 higher on average, but those who were in hospice when they received it had total costs $2,675 less than people who had neither radiation nor hospice care, which is due in part to Medicare's reimbursement structure.

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