A Nationwide Charge Comparison of the Principal Treatments for Early Stage Prostate Carcinoma

Published in: Cancer, v. 89, no. 8, Oct. 15, 2000, p. 1792-1799

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2000

by Judson M. Brandeis, Chris L. Pashos, James M. Henning, Mark Litwin

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Background. The diagnosis and treatment of men with early stage prostate carcinoma is expensive and controversial, yet the similarities in reported survival rates has underscored the importance of ascertaining the relative charges of different forms of therapy. Methods. Patient specific data on demographic characteristics, hospital and physician resource use, and charges were obtained from the Health Care Financing Administration for 1993 through 1996. The inpatient, outpatient, and part B claims from men with a new diagnosis of prostate carcinoma were captured from the quarter of the year in which biopsy was performed through the two quarters after treatment. Charges are reported in inflation-unadjusted dollars. Results. Of 10,107 men treated for early stage prostate carcinoma, 58% received external beam radiation therapy (XRT), 35% had radical prostatectomy, and 7% underwent brachytherapy. Over the 4 years, use of XRT decreased 19% whereas use of brachytherapy increased 21%. Men aged 65-69 years were more likely to have radical prostatectomy, but after age 70 years, XRT predominated. The most expensive treatments were radical prostatectomy with adjuvant XRT ($31,329) and brachytherapy with pretreatment XRT ($24,407). Cost of radical prostatectomy alone was more than XRT alone ($19,019 vs. 15,937; P < 0.05) or brachytherapy alone ($15,301; P < 0.05). Treatment utilization varied with age, race, and geographic region. Conclusions. The mean charges for the workup, treatment, and 6 month follow-up of patients treated for early stage prostate carcinoma ranged between $15,301 and $31,329, with significant treatment group differences. Without a clear survival advantage from one form of treatment, issues such as costs, quality of life, and patient preferences take on paramount importance.

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