Prostate Cancer Radiation is Expensive

Prostate cancer treatment and ranking best options

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There are several treatments available for prostate cancer, and information on which is best has been hard to organize and difficult to interpret - until now.

In a study of prostate cancer treatments comparing external radiation, brachytherapy, and surgery, researchers found that brachytherapy was the most economic option for patients and was also associated with the least side effects.

"Talk to your oncologist about treatment options."

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic analyzed data on 137,427 prostate cancer patients to compare external-based radiation therapy against surgery and brachytherapy. Results were presented at the 4th Annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in January, 2012.

Researchers were particularly interested to learn which procedure gave the best quality of life to patients, as well as how the costs of each stacked up over the long term.

Lead author and Cleveland Clinic Radiation Oncologist, Jay Ciezki, M.D. stated, “We were able to get a good picture of the long-term costs of patient care and were surprised to see such dramatic differences among the three treatment strategies.”

At $6,400, radiation therapy was the most expensive option, double the cost of either surgery or brachytherapy. Radiation therapy also had the highest rate of urinary bleeding or scarring, with 7.1 percent of patients developing problems, compared to surgery at 6.7 percent and 3.4 percent for brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy is a form of radiation treatment where small, weakly radioactive pellets are placed inside the tumor. Only one in eight prostate cancer patients in the study had been treated with brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy.

"While there are clearly still some high-risk prostate cancer patients who will benefit from external beam radiotherapy, for the approximately 80 percent or more of prostate cancer patients diagnosed with low- and intermediate-risk disease, brachytherapy or prostatectomy may be even more preferable options than we’ve previously assumed for men with low- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer.” Dr. Ciezki said.

Results are considered preliminary until published in a peer reviewed journal.

Researchers denied any financial conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 2, 2012
Last Updated:
February 5, 2012