Maximizing resources in the local treatment of prostate cancer: A summary of cost-effectiveness studies

Prostate cancer is a common diagnosis with several treatment options for the newly diagnosed patient, including radiation, surgery, active surveillance, and watchful waiting. Although tailoring of treatment to individual patient needs is an important goal, the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act has placed renewed interest in cost containment and cost-effectiveness. We sought to conduct a literature review of recent US-based studies to analyze the cost-effectiveness of initial local treatments for localized prostate cancer.

We conducted a systematic literature search through PubMed, the Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry, and manual cross-referencing of articles. We identified US-based studies with cost analyses starting in 2005 that studied the cost-effectiveness of initial local treatments for localized prostate cancer (surgery, radiation, or observation).

There were eight studies that met our inclusion and exclusion criteria. Most studies took the cost perspective of Medicare, and two studies also considered the societal cost in terms of lost patient time. Most studies also used a Markov model with inputs based on the available literature for the effectiveness and toxicity of the different treatment options. The radiation-focused studies tended to find brachytherapy (BT) or stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to be more cost-effective than intensity-modulated radiation therapy or proton beam therapy. These findings were primarily based on the lower cost of SBRT or BT with roughly equal efficacy and toxicity. The two studies focused on surgery found surgery to be more cost effective than intensity-modulated radiation therapy, at least for low-risk disease, and one study found BT to be more cost-effective than surgery, and watchful waiting to be the most cost-effective option overall.

Cost-effectiveness analysis is important because it helps patients, physicians, and policymakers make quantitatively-based decisions, which balance treatment efficacy, toxicity, and costs. Significant methodological heterogeneity in the studies we found limit the ability to compare their results directly, but most found that for favorable-risk prostate cancer, shorter or simpler treatments tended to be more cost-effective, including no treatment (watchful waiting) in one study.

Urologic oncology. 2016 Jul 26 [Epub ahead of print]

Vinayak Muralidhar, Paul L Nguyen

Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA., Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Electronic address: .