Systematic review of the cost effectiveness of radiation therapy for prostate cancer from 2003 to 2013

Neha P. Amin, David J. Sher, Andre A. Konski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Prostate cancer remains a prevalent diagnosis with a spectrum of treatment choices that offer similar oncologic outcomes but differing side effect profiles and associated costs. As the technology for prostate radiation therapy has advanced, its associated costs have escalated, thus making cost-effectiveness analyses critical to assess the value of competing treatment options, including watchful waiting, surgery, brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), 3D-conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), proton beam therapy (PBT), and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to identify articles that performed a cost-effectiveness analysis on different radiation treatment options for localized prostate cancer, summarize their findings, and highlight the main drivers of cost effectiveness. Methods: A literature search was performed on two databases, PubMed and the Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry ( ), using search terms that included 'prostate', 'cost effectiveness prostate radiation' and 'cost analysis comparative effectiveness prostate radiation'. Studies were included in this review if the cost data were from 2002 or later, and outcomes reported both cost and effectiveness, preferably including a cost-utility analysis with the outcome of an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio with quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) as the effectiveness measure. Results: There were 14 articles between 2003 and 2013 that discussed cost effectiveness of prostate radiotherapy in men over the age of 65. All but four of the papers were from the US; the others were from Canada and the UK. The majority of the papers used Markov decision analysis and estimated cost from a payer's perspective, usually from Medicare reimbursement data. Assumptions for the model and utilities to calculate QALYs were estimated using published literature at the time of the analysis. Each analysis had a sensitivity analysis to compensate for the uncertainty of the model inputs. The main drivers of cost effectiveness were the cost of the radiation treatment and the differential QALYs accrued because of different treatment-related morbidities. Brachytherapy was consistently found to be more cost effective when compared with surgery and other radiation treatment options. IMRT was cost effective when compared with 3D-CRT. PBT was not found to be cost effective in any of the analyses, mostly due to the high costs of PBT. SBRT was the newest technology that was analyzed, and it was also found to be cost effective compared with IMRT and PBT. Conclusions: Cost-effectiveness research of prostate radiation treatments allows patients, providers, and payers to better understand the true value of each treatment choice. Due to the variation in each of these analyses (e.g., costing, and disease and complication assumptions, etc.), it is difficult to generalize the results. One must be careful in drawing conclusions from these studies and extrapolating to individual patients, particularly with the clear utility dependence seen in the majority of these studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-408
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Health Policy


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