A cost-utility analysis of prostate cancer screening in Australia

Andrew Keller, Christian Gericke, Jennifer A. Whitty, John Yaxley, Boon Kua, Geoff Coughlin, Troy Gianduzzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Objectives: The Göteborg randomised population-based prostate cancer screening trial demonstrated that Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) based screening reduces prostate cancer deaths compared with an age matched control group. Utilising the prostate cancer detection rates from this study we have investigated the clinical and cost-effectiveness of a similar PSA-based screening strategy for an Australian population of men aged 50-69 years.

Methods: A decision model that incorporated Markov processes was developed from a health system perspective.The base case scenario compared a population-based screening programme with current opportunistic screening practices. Costs, utility values, treatment patterns and background mortality rates were derived from Australian data. All costs were adjusted to reflect July 2015 Australian dollars. An alternative scenario compared systematic with opportunistic screening but with optimisation of active surveillance (AS) uptake in both groups. A discount rate of 5% for costs and benefits was utilised. Univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to assess the effect of variable uncertainty on model outcomes.

Results: Our model very closely replicated the number of deaths from both prostate cancer and background mortality in the Göteborg study. The incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) for PSA screening was $AU147,528. However, for years of life gained (LYGs) PSA based screening ($AU45,890/LYG) appeared more favourable. Our alternative scenario with optimised AS improved cost-utility to $AU45,881/QALY, with screening becoming cost-effective at a 92% AS uptake rate. Both modelled scenarios were most sensitive to the utility of patients before and after intervention, and the discount rate used.

Conclusion: PSA-based screening is not cost-effective compared to Australia’s assumed willingness to pay threshold of $AU50,000/QALY. It appears more cost-effective if LYGs are used as the relevant outcome, and is more cost effective than the established Australian breast cancer screening programme on this basis. Optimised utilisation of AS increases the cost-effectiveness of prostate cancer screening dramatically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95–111
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number1
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Cite this