Prostate cancer: what treatment costs in the first year


An analysis by Roehrborn et al. has come up with a mean, per-patient cost of just over $13,000 for managing the care of a newly diagnosed prostate cancer patient for the first year after his diagnosis in the USA, inclusive of actual treatment costs.

We are obviously in no position to make a judgment about the accuracy of this estimate, but we will say that it seems low to us, even with the gradual increase in the use of active surveillance and related management strategies.

What is of greater interest, to our minds, is that, even with this relatively low mean cost per patient, the authors argue that the cost of prostate cancer prevention would reduce this mean cost per patient. In other words, Roehrboern and his colleagues seem to be saying that if we identified those men at high risk for prostate cancer and treated them with drugs like finasteride or dutasteride.

Perhaps the best way to think about this is that dutasteride and finasteride have been shown to reduce the risk of a diagnosis of prostate cancer in about 25 percent of the men who take thse drugs. If you make the assumption that 190,000 men are newly diagnosed each year, and that we could reduce that number by 25%, there would be a saving of $13,000 x 47,500 = $617.5 million per annum, from which we would need to deduct the actual cost of drug therapy to prevent the disease in order to know the true annual saving.

If the actual average, per patient cost of the first year of management post diagnosis turned out to be more like $20,000, then the total annual cost for the first year of treatment turns out to be closer to $1 billion each year.

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