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Fam Pract. 2013 Dec;30(6):641-7. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmt049. Epub 2013 Sep 21.

The costs of identifying undiagnosed prostate cancer in asymptomatic men in New Zealand general practice.

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Waikato Clinical School, The University of Auckland, Hamilton.



Screening for prostate cancer (PCa) using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is widespread in New Zealand. Aim. This study estimates the costs of identifying a new case of PCa by screening asymptomatic men.


Men aged 40+, who had PSA tests in 31 general practices in the Midland Cancer Network region during 2010, were identified. Asymptomatic men without a history of PCa were eligible for this study. A decision tree was constructed to estimate the screening costs. We assumed GPs spent 3 minutes of the initial consultation on informed consent of PCa screening.


About 70.7% of the estimated costs were incurred in general practice. The screening costs per cancer detected were NZ$10 777 (€5820; £4817). The estimated costs for men aged 60-69 were NZ$6268 compared to NZ$24 290 for men aged 40-49, NZ$30 022 for 50-59 and NZ$10 957 for those aged 70+. The costs for Māori were NZ$7685 compared to NZ$11 272 for non-Māori. The costs for men without PSA testing history in 2007-09 were NZ$8887 compared to NZ$13 870 if the men had PSA tests in 2007-09. If we assumed a PSA test involved a full 15-minute general practice consultation, the estimated costs increased to NZ$26 877 per PCa identified.


Screening of asymptomatic men for PCa is widely practiced. Most of the costs of screening were incurred in general practice. Calls for men to receive increased information on the harms and benefits of screening will substantially increase the costs. The current costs could be reduced by better targeting of screening.


Diagnostic tests; health economics; primary care; prostate cancer; screening; urology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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