Cost-effectiveness Analysis of Active Surveillance Strategies for Men with Low-risk Prostate Cancer(Figure presented.)

Niranjan J Sathianathen, Badrinath R Konety, Fernando Alarid-Escudero, Nathan Lawrentschuk, Damien M. Bolton, Karen M Kuntz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Active surveillance (AS) has become the recommended management strategy for men with low-risk prostate cancer. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the optimal follow-up schedule in terms of the tests to perform and their frequency. Objective: To assess the costs and benefits of different AS follow-up strategies compared to watchful waiting (WW) or immediate treatment. Design, setting, and participants: A state-transition Markov model was developed to simulate the natural history (ie, no testing or intervention) of prostate cancer for a hypothetical cohort of 50-yr-old men newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer. Following diagnosis, men were hypothetically managed with immediate treatment, watchful waiting, or one of several AS strategies. AS follow-up was performed either with transrectal ultrasound-guided biopsy or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which was scheduled annually, biennially, every 3 yrs, according to the PRIAS protocol (yrs 1, 4, 7, and 10, and then every 5 yr) or every 5 yr. Diagnosis of higher-grade or -stage disease while on AS resulted in curative treatment. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: We measured discounted quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), discounted lifetime medical costs (2017 US$), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). Results and limitations: Compared to WW, MRI-based surveillance performed every 5 yr improved quality-adjusted survival by 4.47 quality-adjusted months and represented high-value health care at the Medicare reimbursement rate using standard cost-effectiveness metrics. Biopsy-based strategies were less effective and less costly than the corresponding MRI-based strategies for each testing interval. MRI-based surveillance at more frequent intervals had ICERs greater than $800 000 per QALY and would not be considered cost-effective according to standard metrics. Our results were sensitive to the diagnostic accuracy and costs of both biopsy modes in detecting clinically significant cancer. Conclusions: Incorporation of MRI into surveillance protocols at Medicare reimbursement rates and decreasing the intensity of repeat testing may be cost-effective options for men opting for conservative management of low-risk prostate cancer. Patient summary: Our study modeled outcomes for men with low-risk prostate cancer undergoing watchful waiting, immediate treatment, or active surveillance with different follow-up schedules. We found that conservative management of low-risk disease optimizes health outcomes and costs. Furthermore, we showed that decreasing the intensity of active surveillance follow-up and incorporating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) into surveillance protocols can be cost-effective, depending on the MRI costs. Active surveillance outcomes and costs can be optimized by decreasing the intensity of follow-up testing and potentially using multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging—if the cost is similar to the Medicare reimbursement rate—to determine which patients require biopsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-917
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding/Support and role of the sponsor : Niranjan J. Sathianathen and Karen M. Kuntz receive support from the Cloverfields Foundation and The Institute for Prostate and Urologic Cancers (University of Minnesota).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 European Association of Urology

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Conservative management
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Decision analysis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Prostate cancer


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