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CMAJ. 1999 Jan 12;160(1):49-57.

Current and projected annual direct costs of screening asymptomatic men for prostate cancer using prostate-specific antigen.

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University of Toronto Program in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research (The Toronto Hospital Unit), Ont.



Concern over the cost of screening for asymptomatic prostate cancer by means of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing has played an important role in PSA screening policy. However, little is known about the true costs of current PSA screening in Canada and how costs may change in the future.


The authors performed a cost identification study from the perspective of provincial ministries of health. They used data from published reports, hospital discharge data, claims data from several provinces, a laboratory survey, a national survey of knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about screening, a provincial cancer registry and expert opinion to estimate current first-year screening costs. Using demographic data from Statistics Canada and various scenarios regarding changes in screening patterns, the authors derived estimates of the future costs of PSA screening.


In 1995 PSA screening cost an estimated $45 million (range $40 million to $84 million). Treatment accounted for over 61% of total costs, whereas screening, diagnosis and staging accounted for 35%. Screening all eligible men in Canada in 1995 would have cost $317 million (range $356 million to $691 million), more than the costs of all prostate cancer care in that year. Annual recurrent screening for all eligible men in 2005 would cost $219 million (range $208 million to $412 million). Projections from existing trends suggest that annual costs of PSA screening in 2000 are likely to increase from the estimated $45 million to approximately $66 million (range $59 million to $126 million).


PSA screening is costly, but even universal screening would consume a smaller share of national health expenditures than previous studies have suggested. Costs attributable to PSA screening may increase in the future owing to changes in utilization patterns and demographic shifts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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