Prostate Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment in Older Men Incurs Needless Medicare Costs, Study Shows

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment in Older Men Incurs Needless Medicare Costs, Study Shows
Prostate cancer patients age 70 or older are unlikely to die of the disease, but Medicare is spending nearly $400 million annually on detection and treatment in these men, a study shows. Approximately $150 million is attributed to men with low-grade prostate cancer, which could be treated with active surveillance instead of more aggressive methods. Researchers estimate that $320 million could be spared over the course of three years if these men received conservative treatment. The study, “Total Medicare Costs Associated With Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer in Elderly Men,” was published in the journal JAMA Oncology. In older patients, aggressive treatment is seldom advantageous and leads to similar survival rates as a conservative approach — one where patients are actively monitored but do not receive any treatment unless their disease shows signs of progression. Reducing early prostate cancer diagnosis and overtreatment in elderly men could therefore save the U.S. healthcare system millions without causing any harm to patients. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed information collected from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database to determine the Medicare costs incurred by elderly prostate cancer patients and assess the financial burden imposed by the disease. SEER is a United States epidemiological surveillance program by The National Cancer Institute that covers 28% of the country. It collects demographic information
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