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J Clin Oncol. 2002 Jun 15;20(12):2869-75.

Comparing the costs of radiation therapy and radical prostatectomy for the initial treatment of early-stage prostate cancer.

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Research Department, American College of Radiology, Reston, VA, USA.



Radical prostatectomy and external-beam radiation are the most common treatments for localized prostate cancer. Given the absence of clinical consensus in favor of one treatment or the other, relative costs may be a significant factor. This study compares the direct medical costs during the month before and 9 months after diagnosis for patients treated primarily with external-beam radiation or radical prostatectomy for early-stage prostate cancer.


Patients age 65 or older and coded by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry as having been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the prostate treated primarily with external-beam radiation or radical prostatectomy during 1992 and 1993 were identified. The initial treatment costs, as measured by Medicare-approved payment amounts, for each strategy were analyzed using linked SEER-Medicare claims data after adjusting for differences in comorbidity and age. An intent-to-treat analysis was also performed to adjust for differences in staging between the two groups.


For patients in the treatment-received analysis, the average costs were significantly different; $14,048 (95% confidence interval [CI], $13,765 to $14,330) for radiation therapy and $17,226 (95% CI, $16,891 to $17,560) for radical prostatectomy (P <.001). The average costs for patients in the intent-to-treat analysis were also significantly less for radiation therapy patients ($14,048; 95% CI, $13,765 to $14,330) than for those who underwent radical prostatectomy ($17,516; 95% CI, $17,195 to $17,837; P <.001).


For patients with early-stage prostate cancer, average costs during the initial treatment interval were at least 23% greater for radical prostatectomy than for external-beam radiation. Major limitations of the research include not studying costs after the initial treatment interval and questionable current applicability, given changes in management of early prostate cancer.

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