MedPageToday.com reports some staggering numbers that show how “expensive prostate cancer treatments are winning out over the old standards, driving up the cost of treatment before there’s clear evidence that they improve outcomes.” For example:
Robotic and laparoscopic procedures jumped from 1.5% to 28.7% of radical prostatectomies in the Medicare population between 2002 and 2005. MedPageToday reports:
This exponential growth appears to have run ahead of the evidence, which includes a prior analysis by a Brigham and Women’s team showing that minimally invasive prostate surgery doubles risk of genitourinary complications despite shorter hospital stays, and another study suggesting neither benefit nor harm.
Among external beam radiation treatments, intensity-modulated radiation therapy jumped from 28.7% in 2002 to 81.7% in 2005 and perhaps 100% by now.
Within brachytherapy, the addition of intensity-modulated radiation therapy jumped from 8.5% to 31.1% over the same period.
Any evidence of benefit is only coming in now after the fact. But the high-tech train has already left the station. It’s not known how much these technologies are costing Medicare.
And the prediction is that proton beam therapy will dwarf all of these technologies in cost.