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Overuse of costly new prostate cancer treatments drive up costs

Category: Prostate

Some medical professionals have in recent years tried to pin rising prostate cancer treatment costs on heavy use of PSA testing. However, a new study suggests that the over use of new and costly therapies that are only marginally supported by clinical evidence may be the true culprit.

After reviewing surveys from the National Institutes of Health, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that minimally invasive radical prostatectomy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy added $350 million to the cost of treating prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2005.

These are two newer therapies for treating prostate cancer, and while some studies have supported their use, the researchers said the evidence does not justify their exorbitant price tag. In many of the cases they reviewed, less expensive traditional treatment approaches would have sufficed.

"This pattern of rapid adoption may provide some empirical evidence for why healthcare costs account for 17 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and suggests the need for increased comparative effectiveness research to accurately weigh costs and benefits," Paul L. Nguyen, who led the study, wrote in the report.

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