Economists uncovering the cost of prostate cancer

Feb 20 2013

Andrew Searles

Andrew Searles says prostate cancer had a $1.4 billion impact in 2012
HMRI health economists Associate Professor Andrew Searles and Professor Chris Doran have successfully developed a prototype financial model showing that prostate cancer cost Australia an estimated $1.4 billion in 2012.

Each year nearly 20,000 Australian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 3,000 die from it. In 2010 it was the fourth leading cause of death for Australian men and the second leading cause of male death due to cancer.

Despite its impact, little is known about the cost implications of this condition, with cost an important consideration for public policy development. Chris and Andrew intend to develop a complete model to help understand the policy implication from changes in the way prostate cancer is screened, diagnosed and treated in Australia.

The preliminary modelling showed that in 2012 the cost of incident prostate cancer to Australia was an estimated $1.4 billion. Of this amount: health care costs accounted for $444 million; side effects from treatment accounted for $14 million; lost wellbeing for $222 million; lost productivity due to treatment and side effects for $156 million; lost productivity due to premature death for $536 million; and the cost of caring for patients with prostate cancer for $15 million.

There are important implications from this research. First, it will provide the basis for a more complex model to estimate the impact of technology and other health-related interventions for prostate cancer. Second, it can be used as a platform for costing other cancers and disease states. The overarching implication will be the ability to use financial terminology to inform policy development.

The model requires additional work to capture the paths followed by men diagnosed with prostate cancer who fail first-line therapy and require further treatments.

Associate Professor Searles and Professor Doran work with HMRI and the Hunter Valley Research Foundation.