The economics of prostate cancer (in the “western” world)

A new “mini-review” in BJU International provides a summary overiew of the “economic burden” of prostate cancer, largely based on data from the “western” nations (inclusive of Europe, North America, and Australasia).

Roehrborn and Black address the costs associated with the diagnosis, initial treatment, and follow-up of men with prostate cancer in a variety of nations based on a range on published and on-line sources. All costs have been inflated to 2010 levels in order to offer comparsions of “oranges to oranges” in a relatively up to date manner. In the USA alone, the “economic burden” of prostate cancer was estimated to be nearly $10 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) in 2006, for just that one year.

The review does not address the “opportunity cost” associated with different types of treatment for prostate cancer. In other words, there is no estimate of any potential financial benefits that may be associated with the effective management of prostate cancer that may be set against the actual costs of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. It is also very unclear to what extent the costs of management of side effects associated with treatment for prostate cancer may or may not be accurately addressed in the available data.

It is clear from this review that we can expect the costs associated with the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer to rise significantly over the next 20 to 30 years “unless new strategies are devised to reduce the number of diagnoses and/or focus treatment where it is clinically most appropriate” (to quote the authors). Another way to look at this is to say that the costs will continue to rise unless less invasive forms of therapy can be developed and appropriately applied to those who would benefit from such treatment.

The full text of this mini-review is available to subscribers to UroToday.

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