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Prostate Cancer Care Costs Vary by Treatment

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 25, 2010

The short-term and long-term costs of prostate cancer care can vary considerably based on which treatment strategies men initially choose and receive, according to an online study in the journal, Cancer.

For most prostate cancer cases, costs were highest in the initial year of the diagnosis—then dropped sharply and remained steady over the next several years, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said. However, the patterns of costs over a five-year period varied widely in the short-term and long-term based on the initial treatment received.

Watchful waiting had the lowest initial costs ($4,270) and five-year total costs ($9,130). Initial treatment costs, though, were highest for patients who received hormonal therapy plus radiation ($17,474)—then followed by those receiving surgery ($15,197).

Hormonal therapy had the second lowest initial costs, but also had the highest five-year total costs ($26,896). "This demonstrates that treatments that may be less expensive in the short-term may have higher long-term costs," said Claire Snyder, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who led a team that reviewed early stage prostate-cancer cases from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database.

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