Background: The diagnostic algorithm for most cancers includes the assessment of a tissue specimen by a surgical pathologist, but if specimen provenance is uncertain, the diagnostic and therapeutic process carries significant risk to the patient. Over the last decade, short tandem repeat (STR) analysis has emerged as a DNA-based method with clinical applicability for specimen identity testing (also known as specimen provenance testing). Although the clinical utility of identity testing using STR-based analysis has been demonstrated in many studies, its economic value has not been established.
Methods: We developed a decision-analytic model of the application of STR-based provenance testing of transrectal prostate biopsy specimens obtained as part of routine clinical care to rule out the presence of adenocarcinoma of the prostate, as compared with no STR-based testing. Using parameter values drawn from the published literature, the cost-effectiveness of STR-based testing was quantified by calculating the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per quality-adjusted life-year gained.
Results: In comparison to the current standard practice of no identity testing, identity testing by STR-based analysis has an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $65,570 per quality-adjusted life-year gained at a testing cost of $618 per person. At a cost of $515 per person, identity testing would meet the conservative standard of $50,000 per quality-adjusted life-year. At a test cost of $290 per person, identity testing would be cost saving.
Conclusion: Given the rapidly declining pricing of STR-based identity testing, it is likely that testing to confirm the identity of positive prostate biopsy samples will be a cost-effective method for preventing treatment errors stemming from misidentification. Studies to formally establish the frequency of specimen provenance errors in routine clinical practice would therefore seem justified.
Copyright © 2012 International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.