Top 10 chemotherapy procedure codes

Cancer continues to be the second most common cause of death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, a total of 1.9 million new cancer cases and 609,360 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in the US in 2022.

The most common types of cancer in the US include breast, lung, prostate, colon and skin cancer.

While more personalized oncology treatments are coming to market, chemotherapy continues to be one of the most common courses of treatment, alongside surgery and radiation therapy.

Curious about the most common chemotherapy treatments? HCPCS J-codes can provide insight on the most common types of chemotherapy treatments.

What are HCPCS J-codes?

J-codes are part of the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Level II code set. J-codes typically cover injectables and chemotherapy drugs and are used to identify drugs that cannot be self-administered. As of 2022, there are over 872 HCPCS J codes available for billing and coding.

Below we look at HCPCS J-codes by volume to see which chemotherapy drugs are the most common.

10 most common chemotherapy procedures by HCPCS code

HCPCS Code HCPCS Code Description Total # of Procedures
J9035 Injection, bevacizumab, 10 mg 959,537
J9190 Injection, fluorouracil, 500 mg 459,724
J9267 Injection, paclitaxel, 1 mg 334,804
J9263 Injection, oxaliplatin, .5 mg 312,388
J9041 Injection, bortezomib (velcade), .1 mg 310,703
J9045 Injection, carboplatin, 50 mg 303,675
J9271 Injection, pembrolizumab, 1 mg 281,057
J9217 Leuprolide acetate (for depot suspension), 7.5 mg 269,001
J9201 Injection, gemcitabine hydrochloride, not otherwise specified, 200mg 239,795
J9025 Injection, azacytidine, 1 mg 196,215

Fig. 1. Data from Definitive Healthcare ClaimsMx product for 2021 through December. Commercial claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and is updated monthly. Data is accurate as of February 2022.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs for cancer treatment. Chemotherapy procedures involve using different anti-cancer medications to destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing, dividing and replicating.

In some cases, a single chemotherapy drug might be prescribed to a patient, but often several drugs are used together in a specific order or combination. Chemotherapy is also frequently used in conjunction with other cancer treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. 

What are the most common chemotherapy treatments?

An injection of bevacizumab, most commonly sold under the brand name Avastin, is the most frequently performed chemotherapy procedure. The chemotherapy drug can treat a wide range of cancers but is most widely used for colon, lung, kidney, cervical and ovarian cancer. Bevacizumab is an anti-angiogenic therapy designed to prevent tumor growth and is typically used in conjunction with other chemotherapy drugs.

An injection of fluorouracil, most commonly sold under the brand name Adrucil, is the second most common chemotherapy procedure. Fluorouracil injections are used to treat a variety of cancers, including breast, colon or rectal, pancreatic and stomach cancer.

Injections of paclitaxel round out the top three most common chemotherapy procedures. Paclitaxel, commonly sold under the brand names Onxol or Taxol, is used most frequently to treat advanced ovarian, breast and lung cancer. Both fluorouracil and paclitaxel belong to a group of medicines called antineoplastics, which are designed to interfere with the growth of cancer cells.

Where do you go to receive chemotherapy?

Unlike the drugs used to treat chronic conditions, you cannot get chemotherapy drugs at your regular neighborhood pharmacy. Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications requiring precise doses to ensure safety and efficacy.

Patients who require chemotherapy typically receive treatment in a hospital, doctor’s office or clinic as most treatments are given intravenously on a set cycle. Healthcare providers, typically oncologists, also need to calculate chemotherapy doses as some treatments are based on body weight or body surface area, which varies from person to person.

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