Initial Savings May Hide True Cost of Prostate Cancer
MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The initial treatment given
to prostate cancer patients has a major impact on short- and
long-term costs of care, a new study has found.
For example, while some may opt for an initial treatment that is
less expensive in the short-term, the long-term costs of that
treatment may actually be higher, the study authors explained.
Treatments options for early-stage prostate cancer include
surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal treatment, watchful waiting,
or combinations of those methods. Decisions about which treatment
to use are based on a variety of factors, including cost, according
to background information in the study, published online Aug. 23 in
In the study, U.S. researchers analyzed data from 13,769
prostate cancer patients, aged 66 and older, who were diagnosed in
2000 and followed-up for a period of five years. The data came from
the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare
The men were divided into groups based on the treatment they
received during the first nine months after being diagnosed with
prostate cancer: watchful waiting, radiation, hormonal therapy,
hormonal therapy plus radiation, and surgery. The men in the
surgery group may also have received hormones and/or radiation
For most of these cases, treatment costs were highest in the
first year and then declined sharply and remained steady over the
next several years. According to the report, watchful waiting had
the lowest initial ($4,270) and five-year total costs ($9,130), and
hormonal therapy had the second lowest initial cost but the highest
five-year total cost ($26,896).
The highest initial treatment costs were observed among those
receiving hormonal therapy plus radiation ($17,474), and those
undergoing surgery ($15,197), the investigators noted.
Over five years, total costs for hormonal therapy plus radiation
were $25,097, and $19,214 for surgery.
When the researchers took into account that costs of treatment
in the last 12 months of life are different than other treatment
years and excluded the costs for that year, they found that total
costs were highest for hormonal therapy plus radiation ($23,488)
and hormonal therapy only ($23,199).
"This demonstrates that treatments that may be less expensive in the short term may have higher long-term costs," study leader Claire Snyder, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said in a journal news release.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
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