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Prostate Cancer Radiation is Expensive

In a study of prostate cancer treatments comparing external radiation therapy, brachytherapy (radiation seed implant) and prostatectomy (surgical removal), researchers found that brachytherapy was the most economic option for patients and was also associated with the least side effects. Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic analyzed data on 137,427 prostate cancer patients to compare external-based radiation therapy against prostatectomy and brachytherapy.

The 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 we were surprised to see such dramatic differences among the three treatment strategies.”

External Radiation therapy, such as IMRT, was the most expensive option, double the cost of a prostatectomy or brachytherapy. External Radiation therapy or IMRT, also had the highest rate of urinary bleeding or scarring, with 7.1 % of patient’s developing problems, compared to prostatectomy at 6.7 % and 3.4 % for brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy (seed implant) is a one time, out-patient procedure, where small, radioactive seeds are placed inside the prostate tumor to kill the cancer.

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