Adenocarcinoma of the prostate: an expensive way to die

Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2002;5(2):164-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.pcan.4500565.


The costs of radical prostatectomy and radiation therapy for localized carcinoma of the prostate are well known, the costs of terminal care for men with metastatic disease less so. We sought to determine the costs of terminal care incurred with prostate cancer in the last year of life. A retrospective chart review was conducted at five military medical centers identifying 32 patients who had died from prostate cancer from 1995 to 1997. The data investigated were: duration of metastatic disease, days hospitalized in the last year of life, palliative procedures (surgery or radiation), chemotherapy and need for transfusions. The mean duration of symptomatic metastatic disease was 3.4 y. The mean duration of hospitalization in the last year of life was 19 days. Seven patients (22%) required channel transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Three patients (9%) required either percutaneous nephrostomies or stenting. The mean number of transfusions required was 5.4. Eighteen patients (56%) underwent bilateral simple orchiectomy (BSO), 14 (44%) used LHRH agonists and 11 (34%) used anti-androgens. The mean total cost of hospitalization, studies, outpatient visits to physicians, palliative procedures and hormonal therapy was US dollars 24660 in the last year of life. Comparatively, the cost of radical prostatectomy is US dollars 12250 and three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy is US dollars 13823. Our estimation of costs due to metastatic disease is at best an underestimation. Men dying of prostate cancer incur significant costs in the last year of life. Based upon recent epidemiological data the cost of death due to prostate cancer in the US is over three quarters of a billion dollars a year.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / economics
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Military / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / economics
  • Prostatectomy / economics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / economics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy / economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care / economics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal