Cost implications of PSA screening differ by age

Karthik Rao, Stella Liang, Michael Cardamone, Corinne E. Joshu, Kyle Marmen, Nrupen Bhavsar, William G. Nelson, H. Ballentine Carter, Michael C. Albert, Elizabeth A. Platz, Craig E. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple guidelines seek to alter rates of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based prostate cancer screening. The costs borne by payers associated with PSA-based screening for men of different age groups - including the costs of screening and subsequent diagnosis, treatment, and adverse events - remain uncertain. We sought to develop a model of PSA costs that could be used by payers and health care systems to inform cost considerations under a range of different scenarios. Methods: We determined the prevalence of PSA screening among men aged 50 and higher using 2013-2014 data from a large, multispecialty group, obtained reimbursed costs associated with screening, diagnosis, and treatment from a commercial health plan, and identified transition probabilities for biopsy, diagnosis, treatment, and complications from the literature to generate a cost model. We estimated annual total costs for groups of men ages 50-54, 55-69, and 70+ years, and varied annual prostate cancer screening prevalence in each group from 5 to 50% and tested hypothetical examples of different test characteristics (e.g., true/false positive rate). Results: Under the baseline screening patterns, costs of the PSA screening represented 10.1% of the total costs; costs of biopsies and associated complications were 23.3% of total costs; and, although only 0.3% of all screen eligible patients were treated, they accounted for 66.7% of total costs. For each 5-percentage point decrease in PSA screening among men aged 70 and older for a single calendar year, total costs associated with prostate cancer screening decreased by 13.8%. For each 5-percentage point decrease in PSA screening among men 50-54 and 55-69 years old, costs were 2.3% and 7.3% lower respectively. Conclusions: With constrained financial resources and with national pressure to decrease use of clinically unnecessary PSA-based prostate cancer screening, there is an opportunity for cost savings, especially by focusing on the downstream costs disproportionately associated with screening men 70 and older.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalBMC Urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 9 2018


  • Costs
  • Prostate cancer
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Urology


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