The cost, survival, and quality-of-life implications of guideline-discordant imaging for prostate cancer

Aaron N. Winn, Matthew Kelly, Shannon Ciprut, Dawn Walter, Heather T. Gold, Steven B. Zeliadt, Scott E. Sherman, Danil V. Makarov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for incident prostate cancer staging imaging have been widely circulated and accepted as best practice since 1996. Despite these clear guidelines, wasteful and potentially harmful inappropriate imaging of men with prostate cancer remains prevalent. Aim: To understand changing population-level patterns of imaging among men with incident prostate cancer, we created a state-transition microsimulation model based on existing literature and incident prostate cancer cases. Methods: To create a cohort of patients, we identified incident prostate cancer cases from 2004 to 2009 that were diagnosed in men ages 65 and older from SEER. A microsimulation model allowed us to explore how this cohort's survival, quality of life, and Medicare costs would be impacted by making imaging consistent with guidelines. We conducted a probabilistic analysis as well as one-way sensitivity analysis. Results: When only imaging high-risk men compared to the status quo, we found that the population rate of imaging dropped from 53 to 38% and average per-person spending on imaging dropped from $236 to $157. The discounted and undiscounted incremental cost-effectiveness ratios indicated that ideal upfront imaging reduced costs and slightly improved health outcomes compared with current practice patterns, that is, guideline-concordant imaging was less costly and slightly more effective. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the potential reduction in cost through the correction of inappropriate imaging practices. These findings highlight an opportunity within the healthcare system to reduce unnecessary costs and overtreatment through guideline adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1468
JournalCancer Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • cancer care
  • cost-effectiveness
  • costs
  • prostate cancer
  • simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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