Costs of screening for prostate cancer: Evidence from the Finnish Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer after 20-year follow-up using register data
Abstract Objectives Few empirical analyses of the impact of organised prostate cancer (PCa) screening on healthcare costs exist, despite cost-related information often being considered as a prerequisite to informed screening decisions. Therefore, we estimate the differences in register-based costs of publicly funded healthcare in the two arms of the Finnish Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (FinRSPC) after 20 years. Methods We obtained individual-level register data on prescription medications, as well as inpatient and outpatient care, to estimate healthcare costs for 80,149 men during the first 20 years of the FinRSPC. We compared healthcare costs for the men in each trial arm and performed statistical analysis. Results For all men diagnosed with PCa during the 20-year observation period, mean PCa-related costs appeared to be around 10% lower in the screening arm (SA). Mean all-cause healthcare costs for these men were also lower in the SA, but differences were smaller than for PCa-related costs alone, and no longer statistically significant. For men dying from PCa, although the difference was not statistically significant, mean all-cause healthcare costs were around 10% higher. When analysis included all observations, cumulative costs were slightly higher in the CA; however, after excluding extreme values, cumulative costs were slightly higher in the SA. Conclusions No major cost impacts due to screening were apparent, but the FinRSPC's 20-year follow-up period is too short to provide definitive evidence at this stage. Longer term follow-up will be required to be better informed about the costs of, or savings from, introducing mass PCa screening. Highlights The FinRSPC is a randomised, controlled trial in a publicly funded healthcare system. RCT- and register-based 20-year evidence on costs of prostate cancer (PCa) screening. Mean PCa-related healthcare costs were about 10% lower in the screening arm. Mean costs were about 10% higher for men in the screening arm who died from PCa. These are interim cost estimates and screening's full impact will only be known later.
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