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A quantitative analysis of the costs and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

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  • 1Division of Urology, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


The present study attempts to quantitate in an economically and clinically meaningful manner the cost and cost-effectiveness of prostate cancer screening and subsequent treatment, including complications from that treatment. Outcome data from large prostate cancer screening trials using prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal examination (DRE) and PSA alone were used to construct the screening model. The benefit of screening is expressed in years of life saved by screening, which is calculated by comparing the survival rate of men with prostate cancer to the survival rate of men in the general population. The cost of screening, treatment, and complications were estimated using the Medicare data base and published reports on the cost, morbidity and mortality for radical prostatectomy. The cost per year of life saved by prostate cancer screening with PSA and DRE was $2339-3005 for men aged 50-59, $3905-5070 for men aged 60-69, and $3574-4627 overall for men aged 50-69. The cost per year of life saved by prostate cancer screening with PSA alone for men aged 50-70 was $3822-4956. A sensitivity analysis demonstrates that the cost per year of life saved by prostate cancer screening will not change substantially even if the assumptions in this model have been underestimated or overestimated by 100%. This study quantifies only those parameters which can be reliably compared in concrete terms such as dollars, treatment impact on survival, published complication rates and published treatment costs. Using this type of analysis, prostate cancer screening appears to be a cost-effective intervention. However, the issue of whether prostate cancer screening is cost-effective will be decided definitively only when randomized, controlled trials are available to quantify the costs and benefits of prostate cancer screening.Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases (2001) 4, 138-145.

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